Rainbow Week changes events to increase accessibility, intersectionality

Sophie Mann, Reporter

Rainbow Alliance altered locations and programming for its annual Rainbow Week in an effort to be more accessible and intersectional, programming committee member Kelsey Phalen said.

Changes include moving the Coming Out Day event from a vigil at The Rock to a discussion in a classroom in Kresge Hall. Organizers also added a field day with optional competitions to build community regardless of physical ability, Weinberg senior Sylvia Regan said.

Weinberg sophomore Adam Davies, who serves as Associated Student Government’s senator for Rainbow Alliance, said the new format for the Coming Out Day event will allow for more open discussion.

Davies said discussing identity outdoors can be scary or even unsafe, so a closed space will make students more comfortable.

“It’s really difficult for students (to talk about their identities), and not everyone is out at Northwestern,” Davies said. “To be able to have their vigil inside was a really good idea.”

Phalen, a Communication junior, said the vigil her freshman year made her feel safe at Northwestern.

She said she was happy with the change to a discussion-only format because the previous location at The Rock made her feel uncomfortable.

“I very much remember that event my freshman year,” Phalen said. “As a new freshman just coming in and having a place where I could talk about where I came from in an honest manner … that was one of the most important things in making sure I felt secure at Northwestern.”

Regan said events were changed to reach a broader audience, especially more freshmen, so they can engage with LGBTQ community members.

This year, many freshmen have already shown interest and come to meetings, so she expects that to increase attendance compared to previous years, Regan said.

Poet Kavi Ade, a transgender person of color, will discuss toxic masculinity as Rainbow Alliance’s fall speaker Thursday.

Davies said Ade’s talk is particularly important because toxic masculinity is present everywhere, including in the queer community. Ade will also discuss using art as a means of activism, something Davies said is also needed on campus.

Phalen said Rainbow Alliance has been working to increase the intersectionality of its programming, and Ade’s work aligned with that goal.

“Rainbow (Alliance) can have a reputation for being very white and cis,” Phalen said. “Our board is fighting that perception and (trying to) be more intersectional in everything that we do.”

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