A Message for Pride 2023

Happy Pride from the Rainbow Center and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion! Pride celebrates LGBTQIA+ identities, achievements, and activism. It began with Christopher Street Liberation Day, which was held on June 28, 1970 to recognize the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a watershed moment in modern LGBTQIA+ civil rights and activism. The Rainbow Center continues the work made visible by the first Pride celebration by operating in the service of a more equitable world for all students, faculty, and staff at the University of Connecticut. Simply put, the Rainbow Center is here to support the LGBTQIA+ communities at UConn. We celebrate you and are here to help you show up as your most complete self.

The Rainbow Center and ODI invite students, staff, faculty, and community members to celebrate Pride 2023. This year, we would like to emphasize the importance of visibility for members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are willing and able, as well as the critical need for LGBTQIA+ allies to be visible in showing their support. Legislation across the country, including in the state of Connecticut, is attempting to render LGBTQIA+ communities invisible and erase our existence. As we celebrate Pride, we encourage everyone to resist this attempt at erasure by being visible. We are here. We are proud. We will not be erased. Here are a few ways and opportunities to emphasize visibility in this year’s Pride celebrations:

Celebrate Queer/Trans Joy: For LGBTQIA+ folx, the most important aspect of Pride is taking care of yourself and celebrating or commemorating Pride in whatever ways that feel best to you. We value you as part of our community, and your joy is important to us. In addition to attending our events, we recommend you check out the National Center for Transgender Equality’s “Finding Joy: Trans Day of Visibility 2023” for more celebrations of you.For advocates and allies, the most important aspect is showing the LGBTQIA+ communities that they matter. It is especially important to show genuine support in this moment, not only because of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, but also because of the performative nature of prevalent corporate sponsorship, which sells rainbow gear in June while supporting that legislation through their annual political donations.

Be Visible: Visibility is an important act of resistance against attempts to erase LGBTQIA+ identity. We invite members of the LGBTQIA+ community for whom it is safe to do so, as well as advocates and allies across the UConn system, to participate in the Rainbow Center’s Pride Visibility Campaign. Fill out the form and include a headshot, which we will convert to a Pride headshot that can be used as an avatar for social media or Microsoft Teams. You can also choose to have your avatar featured on our social media.Unfortunately, it is not always safe for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to visibly identify themselves. As such, we feel it is especially important for those of us who are willing, able, and safe to identify ourselves to show them support and community.

Educate Yourself About the Challenges We Face: We invite you to check out these events and resources for supporting the LGBTQIA+ community:

    • Rainbow Center’s Out To Lunch Pride Edition: students, staff, faculty, and community members are invited to the Rainbow Center on Thursday, June 22, from 12:00 – 2:00 PM. Lunch will be served. Come get to know Rainbow Center staff and watch the FORGE webinar, “State-Sanctioned Hate: The Impacts of the “Culture Wars” on Trans Lives.” Please RSVP here.
    • Rainbow Center’s Symposium: Join us on Friday, October 13, 2023, during LGBTQIA+ History Month, for a day-long event promoting empathy, teaching queer pedagogy, exploring identity and college success, and educating about mental health. Registration is open now.
    • Check out UConn School of Social Work’s Innovations Institute’s free webinars.
    • Consider following national organizations advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights such as the National LGBTQ Task Force and GLSEN.

Be in Community with UConn’s LGBTQIA+ populations:

      • Attend UConn’s QBIPOC Pride event on Wednesday, June 14th, in the VIP Room at Spare Time Vernon (50 Talcottville Rd, Vernon, CT 06066). *Please note: This event is primarily for BIPOC folx to feel supported and be in community.
      • Attend Queer UConn Employees’ Pride Month Celebration on Wednesday, June 21, at the Spot and Bar Grill (200 Merrow Road, Tolland, CT). Free appetizers while they last! Cash bar.
      • UConn Alumni can go to the UConn Foundation to register to receive a limited-edition UConn Pride Pack.
      • Consider donating gently used or new clothes to the Rainbow Center Gender Affirming Closet or make a gift to the Rainbow Center Fund. We are especially in need of clothes for students to wear to job interviews/networking events.
      • Join in the Rainbow Center’s 25th anniversary celebration events this Fall. Make sure to check the Rainbow Center’s website later this summer for more details!

The Rainbow Center and ODI are proud to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community year-round. We wish you a happy Pride month and look forward to seeing you at these events!

Kelsey O’Neil
Director, Rainbow Center

Frank Tuitt
Vice President / Chief Diversity Officer