We all had different reasons for joining the Bulls Service Breaks LGBTQIA+ trip. In part, we wanted to learn and find ways to start working as advocates for the LGBTQ issues we see in our campus and greater community. Some of us wanted to learn more about the transgender community in order to be more inclusive feminists and activists. Others wanted to take skills and strategies back to leadership positions at USF. The more we talked, the more it became clear that we all are seeking to understand.
We started out the week with workshops and trainings to orient us to the important work Campus Pride is doing here in Charlotte and across the country. We were all excited to hear about opportunities for LGBTQ youth like Camp Pride and the Time Out youth center. Once we had some training under our belts, it was time to get down to work. We split into teams working on an organization strategic review project, auction preparation, and social media research.
Throughout our time with Campus Pride, we were visited by local LGBTQ community leaders who taught us about gender identity, activism in the wake of HB2, queer history, and advocating for sexual health. We stayed pretty busy after our workdays, too. Our group visited LGBTQ businesses and enjoyed restaurants like Dish. We also visited the Campus Pride office to learn about working for a non-profit organization. We stayed up late to watch documentaries like The Trans List and even see a drag show. This trip really became a 24/7 experience for all of us.
“We learned that we have the power
to stand up for each other and work for a safer world.”
Given our different backgrounds, our group had a lot to talk about. One night, our reflection focused on intersectionality and its role in activism. By opening up about our personal identities and the connections between them, we started to seek out opportunities to collaborate to create positive change. We spent a lot of time discussing how to bring our experience home to USF. For example, we want gender inclusive housing on our campus in order to be more accessible to our LGBTQ students. Everyone in our group is committed to getting USF more connected with Campus Pride and its programs.
After our week with Campus Pride, we are deeply moved by the work they are doing to help students just like us. Comparing the LGBTQ rights movements of the past to the programs and initiatives of Charlotte activists helped us understand our place in history and our role in shaping the future. We learned that we have the power to stand up for each other and work for a safer world. A world not just equal in law, but in respect, dignity, and life, too. We learned that this movement didn’t begin with us so we have years of support as our foundation. In other words, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We just have to keep it spinning.