Thursday, December 8

A Pride By Any Other Name: Kent’s Rainbow Weekend to be celebrated this weekend

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Is a Pride by any other name in any non-June month still a Pride? 

In the case of Kent Rainbow Weekend, the answer is a resounding, “YAS!”

Held on October 7-8, Kent Rainbow Weekend offers up many fun opportunities for students and families alike to engage in LGBTQ+ pride from a bar crawl, to a rainbow run, to art exhibits, to even “Courageously Queer” storytelling

“We want people to walk away feeling that Kent is a great place to be and have the feeling that they would want to go back and invite others with them,” explains event coordinator Heather Malarcik.

To learn more about Kent’s Rainbow Weekend, The Buckeye Flame spoke with  Malarcik about why this weekend is so important in this community.

Is Rainbow Weekend a Kent Pride event?
Essentially yes. We didn’t want to call it a Pride event because we’re not having a parade and it’s not during Pride Month. We did a Rainbow Weekend a couple of years ago in March, right before COVID-19 and then couldn’t have the event for a couple years after that. Rainbow Weekend is our spin on a Pride-like event, but it’s more about building awareness of Kent as a very welcoming and open community to all people. 

We want to showcase the artists and entertainers within the community, along with raising money to help the LGBTQ Center on Kent’s campus with their emergency fund available for students whose families turn their backs on them. This emergency fund can help them pay for their books and help them keep moving forward in college. We use the bar crawl to raise money for the emergency fund but a lot of our other programming is free and people will then have the opportunity to make a donation. We have heard from the director of the LGBTQ Center that there is an increasing need for these funds right now.

Why do this in October?
We decided to bring Rainbow Weekend back this year, but wanted to select a better time of the year than our March Rainbow Weekend. We didn’t want to have Rainbow Weekend in June because our Kent State campus students, partners and people who are a big part of this event planning wouldn’t be around. 

So we chose October because that is LGBTQ History Month and National Coming Out Day. And again, having participation from the other half of our population and allowing them to be here and be a part of Rainbow Weekend was important to us.

What is uniquely Kent about this program?
At our program we have things that allow all ages to be included. We have kid-friendly and family-friendly events so members of the community can take their young children to this event and open their eyes to the world. We are having specific art shows at a few different galleries and businesses in town during the weekend to showcase local talent. 

We are doing a storytelling event called “Courageously Queer” and the people who are speaking will be sharing their stories about their identity. We have chosen individuals with all different types of gender identities to speak during the event.

We will also be screening a documentary called “Mama Bears” that is about people choosing their children over their church. This documentary showcases that individuals need to go beyond their evangelical beliefs to actually be a good parent. This will be shown at Franklin Hall First Energy Interactive Auditorium. Outside the Auditorium there will be an interactive art piece for individuals to participate in to share their positive thoughts on a big rainbow display.

What do you want people to walk away with?
We want people to walk away feeling that Kent is a great place to be and have the feeling that they would want to go back and invite others with them. Kent offers something for everyone and we want people to feel that they are welcome here. 🔥

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About Author

Rebecca Vontroba is a future Speech-Language Pathologist who has always taken an interest in learning more about people and their stories from all around the world. She double-majored in Communication Sciences and Psychology and earned a minor in Business Management at Case Western Reserve University. She is currently pursuing her Master's in Speech-Language Pathology at Baldwin Wallace University.

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