Out & Proud is an annual celebration at WOU that explores the various cultures and ethnic backgrounds within the LGBTQ community. This year, there are two events planned Feb. 8 and a ball set for Feb. 10.
Coordinator Katherine Macias-Torres is spearheading the Feb. 8 events, and the sophomore pre-nursing student said she’s excited to highlight the intersection between strong cultural identities and strong LGBTQ identities, particularly in the queer person of color panel discussion at 11 a.m. in the Willamette Room at the Werner University Center.
“The panel, which Triangle Alliance is helping find panelists for, should include a lot of audience interaction,” Macias-Torres said. “People can ask the panelists questions such as ‘How was coming out for you?’ and ‘What ways did (coming out) challenge your identity in that culture?’ ”
Panel members will be participants who self-identify as queer people of color and who ideally can share both positive and difficult experiences with their respective cultures, said Casi Healy, president of Triangle Alliance.
“It’s also helpful if they have good skill in speaking,” he said.
The dinner will be 6-8 p.m. that night in the Columbia Room at WUC. The evening’s festivities will be hosted by Maria Peters Lake, an entertainer and overseer of an organization that raises money for scholarships that help LGBTQ students attend college.
“She’s just such a wonderful and caring person,” Macias-Torres said. “She is so bright and lights up the wherever she is. This will be her first time here.”
Macias-Torres said the theme of the night will awareness and empowerment.
“The LGBTQ community is a minority within a minority,” she said. “It’s important to acknowledge that. We want people to be comfortable there.”
In addition to the speaker’s presentation, the event will include dinner and recognition for the planning committee. Tickets for the dinner are $7 and will be sold Feb. 2 and Feb. 6-7 in front of the bookstore in the WUC. Macias-Torres expects 75-80 people to attend.
On Friday, Feb. 10, Triangle Alliance will host the Black and Red ball from 7-9 p.m. in the Pacific Room at WUC. The annual event is a fundraiser for Cascades AIDS Project and donations will accepted, but there is no cost to attend.
Healy said the dance will feature an emcee, prize giveaways, food and beverages. Students, faculty, staff and others are invited attend.
“We get a lot of people coming from the community,” Healy said. “This is a very big event for them each year.”
For more about Out & Proud, visit the event website.
By Marion Barnes