A flurry of snaps filled the room when Diana Moreno reminded LGBTQ+ students that UF is their campus too.
“You belong on this campus not just because you pay tuition but because you worked your a-- off to get here,” the assistant director of UF Multicultural and Diversity Affairs said.
Moreno was one of four panelists at the first LGBTQ Elders Panel in Ustler Hall, hosted by Pride Student Union, Monday night. During a Q&A, the panelists discussed local resources and offered advice on student activism to the audience of about 20 students.
The panel was one of several events celebrating Pride History Week at Gainesville and UF, said Nate Quinn, the group’s president.
Quinn, a 20-year-old UF psychology and music performance junior, doesn’t want new students to feel the same way he did his freshman year. He remembers not knowing where he belonged as a transgender bisexual man on campus, he said.
He said the week is a time for the LGBTQ+ community to reflect on its past and celebrate its future.
Billy Huff, the director of UF LGBTQ Affairs and a panelist, talked to students about how LGBTQ+ labels can be useful for some but oppressive to others.
“A lot of times we try to catch up with these labels and fitting them to ourselves instead of just being who we are,” he said.
Labels are like pins on a lapel that can be taken on and off, said Melina Rayna Svanhild Farley-Barratt, a local LGBTQ+ activist.
“A label is an attempt to explain yourself,” she said. “It’s not that you fit the label. It’s that the label kind of fits you.”
Students responded with a snap of their fingers and wave of their heads.
Alex Rong, a 19-year-old UF exploratorysophomore, wasn’t initially planning on staying longer than 30 minutes but sat in the audience through the end because the conversation was too important to miss out on, he said.
“We get to learn from (the panelists) mistakes, experiences, everything,” he said.
Wednesday: History of Pride & Pride Parade Events
Ustler Hall, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday: UF Drag Race
Reitz Union Rion Ballroom, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday: Monstrosity, Drag & Human Liberation
Reitz Union Room G310, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday: Gainesville Pride Parade
Bo Diddley Plaza, noon to 9 p.m.