CARBONDALE — In response to the evangelist who spread homophobic rhetoric on SIU campus on Oct. 4, university organizers have planned a Pride rally to show students they are supported.
The Saluki Pride Rally will take place at the quad outside of Faner Hall from 1 to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
“Student leaders and representatives from Saluki Pride Network, WGSS, USG, GPSC, SIU Student Trustee and members from Rainbow Café are coming together to celebrate and show support for our SIUC students, staff, faculty that are members of the LGBTQA+ community,” Dianah McGreehan, one of the organizers, said.
The rally is partially in response to "Brother Matt," the evangelist who picketed on campus with homophobic signs earlier this month — and to the anti-LGBTQ flyers that were being spread at Anna-Jonesboro Community High School.
“We want to be louder and prouder than the hate and embrace the Pride our Salukis hold for our LGBTQ community members,” McGreehan said.
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Isaac Ludington, one of the organizers and president of the Saluki Rainbow Network, said his hope with the Pride rally is that students will see that SIU is still a welcoming place.
“And that our community is affirming, accepting, and no home for hate,” Ludington said.
Michael Coleman, a board director at Rainbow Café and organizer, echoed Ludington and said he hopes the rally creates a better sense of community.
“I feel like in terms of Southern Illinois, the LGBTQ+ community isn't as strong as it should be. Especially on campus life as well. I've had a ... plethora of different stories, not even about this — just in general — of members of the LGBTQ community, on campus being harassed ... ” Coleman said. “So I think that it's needed and I really hope that we come out of this with a sense of education, a sense of where to find resources, if you're looking for said education, and also giving the support system with that as well.”
Janine Armstrong, president of the Women Gender and Sexuality Studies RSO, said she wants to give students a place to voice their frustrations over recent events.
“I want students, faculty and staff [to] just be reminded that SIU is a place that's always supportive, that, yes, we can have differences of opinion and differences in who we are as people. But at the end of the day those differences are what makes our campus a beautiful place. And we should celebrate those,” Armstrong said.