Middlebury Celebrates Gaypril with a Month of Events

Middlebury+Open+Queer+Alliance+%28MOQA%29+will+host+several+events+celebrating+%22Gaypril%22+in+the+coming+weeks.+%28Courtesy%29
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Middlebury Celebrates Gaypril with a Month of Events

Middlebury Open Queer Alliance (MOQA) will host several events celebrating

Middlebury Open Queer Alliance (MOQA) will host several events celebrating "Gaypril" in the coming weeks. (Courtesy)

Photographer: Benson Kua

Middlebury Open Queer Alliance (MOQA) will host several events celebrating "Gaypril" in the coming weeks. (Courtesy)

Photographer: Benson Kua

Photographer: Benson Kua

Middlebury Open Queer Alliance (MOQA) will host several events celebrating "Gaypril" in the coming weeks. (Courtesy)

By Katie Schott

 

This week marked the kickoff of Gaypril, a month hosted by Middlebury Open Queer Alliance (MOQA) that is dedicated to raising LGBTQ awareness and celebrating “queer” life at Middlebury.

The inaugural event was a joint Atwater dinner co-hosted by Women of Color (WOC), Feminist Action at Middlebury (FAM) and MOQA with the theme of “Good Food and Talking.” It was a big success, according to MOQA co-chair Petre Knor ’15, who said, “we had to turn 50 people away at the door.”

This year, Gaypril has a packed calendar, with some stand-out events including a panel on international queerness, an awareness workshop on HIV/AIDS by Vermont CARES and a talk by Lesléa Newman, author of the first children’s book featuring a non-traditional family, Heather Has Two Mommies.

MOQA co-chair Emma Ashby ’13 is particularly excited about Lesléa Newman’s visit.

“I’m really interested in her,” said Ashby. “I think its cool that [her book] overlaps with the political world and the literary community.”

Newman’s book was published in 1989 and was widely banned upon release and remains so in several places.

The panel on international queerness will, said Knor, “focus on masculinity abroad and how it is different from the U.S. … like how, in Europe, it’s not ‘gay’ to wear tight, colored pants and in India men can hold hands.”

“It’s basically how do you know a hipster from someone international, from a gay man. It’s a very discussed topic in the queer community when guys are scouting for other guys,” Ashby added.

Some of the more social events include a Fri-Gay party at Munford on Friday, April 12, and a “Barbe-queer” behind Chellis House that Ashby hopes “everyone will come to.”

She added, “As you can see, we had a lot of fun naming the events!”

Gaypril this year is emphasizing collaboration with multiple co-hosted events — for example, a recent pride Shabbat service and dinner at Hillel House.

Hillel President and MOQA member Dave Yedid explained that after the Shabbat dinner there was a discussion of sexuality and faith, and how Jewish values fit in with LGBTQ issues.

“I think that a lot of people see faith and homosexuality as exclusive,” said Yedid. “LGBT communities tend to be secular or even denigrate religion. So my favorite part about Judaism is its diversity and inclusion.”

April is the perfect time for LGBTQ awareness month for reasons apart from the pun — Gaypril happens when many prospective students come to visit campus.

“You gravitate to places that are more accepting,” said Ashby. “I’ve heard from many students that when they visited they saw the gay flags flying everywhere and the huge Gaypril posters, and it really affected their decision to come here.”

“One of the reasons I chose to come to Middlebury was I saw the Gaypril calendar and I was like yes, there is gay activism here!” added Yedid.

Despite the bright energy that Gaypril exudes, MOQA does face some obstacles on campus. Knor points out that Middlebury lacks a college employee dedicated to LGBTQ issues that many other colleges provide.

“It’s hard because then the responsibility to organize everything falls on MOQA,” said Knor.

But this year MOQA has pulled together a full schedule of events, and each individual involved has their own hopes and goals for Gaypril’s effect on campus life.

Yedid sees Gaypril as an avenue for “welcoming allies and uniting the gay community.”

“I’d love to draw in someone who has never thought about queerness in their life, maybe the male lacrosse player who comes by himself to a screening just because its something he’s never been involved in before,” said Ashby on her goals for the month.

CHARLOTTE BOGHOSSIAN also contributed reporting

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