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Weber State University’s Center for Diversity and Unity will kick off “Gaypril” with the third annual LGBT Black and White Ball on March 28 in the Shepherd Union Building, Room 404.
Throughout April, the CDU will hold a series of events focused on educating and raising awareness of issues within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Events will include the Day of Silence, a day to encourage reflection for those who have committed suicide and those dealing with bullying; the Night of Noise, for LGBT community members to celebrate each other; and the Gallery Walk, which depicts images from PhotoVoice of 10 LGBT students expressing comfort levels in different areas on campus.
Over the past three years, the Black and White Ball has grown exponentially. The hiring of an LGBT advocate, a student who works within the CDU to coordinate events and programming focused on LGBT issues, has given students someone to represent them within the CDU. The opening of the LGBT Lounge and creation of the faculty Gay-Straight Alliance during the past year has given students a place to find support and develop friendships on campus.
“The lounge has helped me find support friends,” said Josh White, WSU freshman. “It is a place that I can ask questions and not feel uncomfortable about who I am with those around me.”
Recently, with the Board of Trustees’ approval, an LGBT Resource Center and director position has been established. The center is expected to open as early as next year.
For many LGBT students on the WSU campus, the ball is more than just being a dance.
“The dance is important. Not all the time do people feel comfortable being who they are in public,” White said. “It allows people to feel comfortable with themselves.”
Kate Martinson, WSU junior and former LGBT advocate, said the dance represents the growth WSU has undergone.
“It gives couples and others in the community a night to celebrate who they are with others like them,” she said.
The ball centers on celebrating individuality and diversity and is open to all students, regardless of sexual orientation.
The event is free to students with a donation. Donations are requested to be items that can go into hygiene kits, which will later be donated to homeless youth and others in need.
“I’m really excited about this event and hope that people can come and have some fun before we start in with the final weeks of school,” said Karlee Berezay, WSU’s current LGBT advocate.
For more information regarding the Black and White Ball, students can contact Berezay at [email protected]. More information on Gaypril events is available on the WSU LBGT Resources Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WeberStateLGBTInitiatives.