Friday, Oct. 6, Queer Unity for Eastern Students assembled its annual pride flag display on the Pray-Harrold lawn. The flag display is one of the many events held as part of the LGBTQ Resource Center’s OUTober month.
OUTober is a month full of various events to learn, socialize, celebrate, and raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ community. The events include panels, dances, social hours, picnics, and discussion. Some events in the near future include the EPIC+: Non-binary panel, EMU Homecoming Picnic: Come On Out, Queers Without Fears QTPOCC, and much more. The flag display is the third event listed for OUTober and is set to be there until the end of the month.
About 20 people from QUEST, including LGBTQ+ program coordinator Mary Larkin, along with a few allies came to help assemble the flag display. This much help turned out to be plenty of people compared to the past years. QUEST member R. Clark says this is their fourth year helping out with the event.
“My first year, it took forever. I seriously think we were here for four hours,” they said. “I know it took us longer last year because we tried to make an ‘E’ and that just went terrible.”
Every year, QUEST and allies take time to make the miniature flags and put them into the ground together to represent EMU’s inclusiveness for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
The display is one large rainbow flag made out of hundreds of miniature flags staked into the lawn. There are four rows of mini flags for each stripe of the large flag with around 85 flags in each row. The size is approximately 24 flags by 84 flags in size with each flag being approximately one foot apart from each other. The mini flags are made of fabric and wooden sticks hot glued together.
Marcus LaGuerre, resident advisor for Pittman Hall, said he offered to help make some of the flags by creating a small event in his hall. QUEST asked LaGuerre to make 400 purple flags, but they ended up making 300 purple flags along with 50 blue flags for the display.
According to guidetoonlineschools.com, EMU is ranked a 4 out of 5 on the Campus Pride Index Scale. It is one of 2017’s Top LGBTQ-Friendly Online Schools out of 58 accredited institutions.
Claude Murphy, a sophomore at EMU, said that they used to attend College for Creative Studies in Detroit which had a significantly smaller student body.
“We had a gay straight alliance club, but we didn’t have any big events like this,” Murphy said.
With as inclusive and LGBTq+ friendly EMU is, there was a push back. According to wemu.org, in 2015, the flag display was destroyed by unknown vandals. The hundreds of mini flags were pulled out of the ground, put under a nearby tree with some scattered around the lawn, leaving only the red, yellow, and blue stripes.
The members of QUEST later put the display back together. There hasn’t been an incident since.