Pride Week at the University of Utah, a ‘top-25’ LGBT-friendly school

Story and photos by DAYLAN JONES

Pannel style discussion at the Hinkley Institute, Oct 4, 2012

Panel discussion at the Hinkley Institute of Politics, Oct. 4, 2012.

The University of Utah was named one of the top 25 most LGBT-friendly colleges and universities in the U.S. by Campus Pride in August 2012. The ranking gave the U something else to celebrate during the annual Pride Week celebration, held Oct. 1-5, 2012.

The rankings are based on data from the Campus Pride Index, which rates colleges and universities on things such as LGBT-friendly policies.

The U received high scores in all categories but LGBT Housing and Residence Life, where it scored a 3.5 of 5 stars.

“We are currently working towards that with the housing department and other necessary departments to have that by the fall [of 2013],” said Kai Medina-Martínez, director of the LGBT Resource Center at the U.

“It’s a good thing,” Medina-Martínez said about the publicity. “When the list came out the major news outlets contacted us, the U’s webpage acknowledged us, and in addition to the school, it’s a really good thing for the state.”

The Pride Week panel at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, Oct. 4, 2012.

The Pride Week panel at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, Oct. 4, 2012.

Pride Week has a different focus or theme every year to educate students and the public about issues in the LGBT community. This year’s theme was “Pride Has No Borders.”

The panel, “Pride Has No Borders: Immigration,” held Oct. 4 at the Hinkley Institute of Politics, focused on the challenges lesbians and gays of color face as they apply for immigration, get jobs and try to make a difference.

“As a woman of color and an immigrant myself I can connect with this,” said Valeria Moncada, a student who attended the panel. “It hurts my heart to see the hardships and unfairness we as people of this country place on immigrants. Immigrants as individuals are treated unfairly but because you are LGBT, you have less rights than a traditional immigrant.”

Pride Week also featured fun events. The Drag Show was a hit and gave new insight to one student. Madeline Smith commented on the “feisty” performers and “huge variety of looks and performances.”

The show, also Oct. 4, was held at Sugar Space in Salt Lake City. “My favorite performance was Klaus von Austerlitz,” Smith said. “He lip-synced to ‘Call Me Maybe,’ but mixed the song so it would change from the original song to a really creepy version and he would dance accordingly. He walked out all stiff like a doll and had 666 written on his hand so every time it said ‘here’s my number…’ he pointed to his hand.”

Smith, who was attending her first drag show, said she was “in awe at how Klaus fought the stereotype that all drag queens have to have fake boobs [and] wear heels…. He creeped out the crowd but everyone loved him.”

Sterling Anderson, a gay student at the U said about Pride Week, “I feel like I can be myself, and accepted for who I am on this campus. I don’t feel I have to hide my status and know I will be respected in that aspect. I feel very fortunate.”