When Temple’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership hosted its first National Coming Out Week 10 years ago, the theme was “Gay? It’s OK!”
The jingle was based on another slogan, “Gay? Fine by me!,” which was created by Duke University students in a 2003 T-shirt project in response to the Princeton Review naming Duke the least gay-friendly school in America in 1999. The slogan provoked on-campus conversations about sexual orientation.
These quick and easy-to-remember sayings — both at Duke and Temple — did the trick of their times. Gay was then understood as an umbrella term for multiple LGBTQ identities. In today’s academic climate, IDEAL Director of Student Engagement Nu’Rodney Prad said that “queer” is growing in preference. “Gay” represents only a fraction of identities in the LGBTQ community.
“It’s still OK,” Prad said. “But when we look back at how linguistics has changed and modified itself within the last 10 years within the community, it’s been significant.”
That’s why this year’s NCOW theme is “Love is Intersectional,” marked with a Roman numeral X.
The numeral symbolizes the week’s 10th anniversary, the cross-section between gender identities and gender-inclusive language, Prad said.
The Roman numeral “X” is also used to eliminate gender distinction in the Spanish language, like in the word “Latinx” and in titles before a person’s name like “Mx.,” which is gender neutral.
Julie McNamara, a senior graphic design major, created the logo for this year’s event. She used the Pride font and transparent, overlapping colors. She said she was inspired by her friends and peers and the idea that love is not black and white.
“Pride isn’t just about the relationships,” McNamara said, “It’s so much more dynamic than that.”
This year’s NCOW kicked off on Friday with Queer Bingo, hosted by IDEAL and Main Campus Program Board, followed by a drag show hosted by model, musician, and activist Cory Wade on Monday at Temple Performing Arts Center.
Wade, whose drag persona is Serena Starr, is known for being the first openly gay male finalist on America’s Next Top Model and placed third on Cycle 20 of the show. He hosted Temple’s first drag show in 2012 prior to his fame from ANTM.
While the drag show contained lots of excitement and laughs, Prad said he worked hard to implement an educational aspect to it as well. The show discussed ballroom culture and gender identity.
“Being transgender and being a person that does drag are not synonymous with one another,” he added. “[The show tried] to highlight all of these important facts to kind of dismantle what people think when they come to drag shows in general.”
Other events this week include a community forum on Tuesday that will focus on power and privilege and intersectional identities in the LGBTQ community. At Wednesday’s queer networking event in the Student Center, students can speak with LGBTQ professionals about their experiences being queer in the workplace.
“Come Out, Speak Out!” will be held from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday in the Student Center Underground and will offer a space for students to share testimonials and coming-out stories. LGBTQ campus organizations and community organizations can network and self-promote at NCOW Fest, which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday on 13th Street between Cecil B. Moore and Montgomery avenues.
All events are free and open to the public except the Fundraising Gala, which is 6:30-9 p.m. on Friday at Mitten Hall. To attend, students need to purchase a $10 ticket. Non-student tickets are $35. Money collected at the Fundraising Gala will be donated to Galaei, a Philadelphia-based queer Latinx social justice organization, and The COLOURS Organization, which serves the Black LGBTQ community.
Carmella Hall, a senior gender, sexuality and women’s studies and criminal justice major, is the president of QPOC and helped prepare for NCOW.
Hall said that the Fundraising Gala is a unique opportunity for students to connect with the community, take advantage of resources and donate to a good cause. She added this year’s NCOW marketing has been especially eye-catching and that two primary goals of the week are to increase in student participation and community engagement.
“You…belong to the city,” Hall said. “It’s more than just celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community at Temple, it’s also [about our] involvement in Philadelphia.”