Celebrating, honoring LGBTQ+ community with annual Pride Week

Pride flags decorate Upper Commons in honor of Pride Week.

Connor Linskey, Herald Contributor

Androgynous model Rain Dove kicked off the annual Pride Week celebration by speaking in Global Heritage Hall on Monday, April 16.

Dove shared her life’s journey and the lessons that she has learned along the way, adding that she struggled to find her identity at a young age. When she was younger, classmates often made fun of her appearance because she dressed “like a boy.”

However, a turning point in her life came when she and her fellow firefighters were injured when a tree fell on them in Colorado. The first responders showed more urgency in saving her female co-worker than they did for her male comrade, which made her realize that many inequalities exist in our society.

For a period of her life, Dove was homeless and slept in the backyards of foreclosed homes. Eventually, she became a model, but still found that she struggled in that industry because she did not fit the mold for the “ideal model.

“If they don’t see you as an asset, they don’t deserve you,” Dove said, referring to the current job market.

The fashion world is very biased in how it wants male and female models to look. An overwhelming majority of agencies require female models to be tall and thin, whereas men are supposed to be tall with lean muscle.

At the onset of Dove’s modeling career, she met some – but not all – of the criteria to be a model. She was tall and thin, but found walking in heels to be a challenge. At that point, she knew she had to make a change.

Dove has broken the mold of what female models look and dress like. She models both men’s and women’s clothing, and now identifies as an agender model.

Dove explained that she believes that gender is a social construct and, therefore, that people should feel free to dress and act however they want. She travels to schools in order to advocate for people feeling free to express themselves in any way possible.

“I think that Rhode Island has a really big chance to create change,” Dove said. “By giving these speeches, I really just want people to be happy.”

The event was well attended by RWU community members. They laughed when Dove made jokes and asked questions about her life. Members of the audience seemed to be really affected by her speech.

“I thought this event was truly amazing,” said junior Ryan Herrmann. “As a history major, I love to hear people’s stories. These stories impact myself and people around me.”

Pride Week programming continues throughout this week. On Tuesday, there was a themed dinner in Upper Commons as well as guest speaker Jaye Watt in the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center. Queerfest took place on Wednesday evening out on the Commons Quad. Thursday features an event called “Act On Your Pride!” on the Commons Landing. Pride Week will conclude on Friday with a Day of Silence to help raise awareness about the silence that members of the LGBTQ+ community struggle with on a daily basis. The silence will be broken at 5:00 p.m. on the patio behind Global Heritage Hall. Lastly, there will be a themed Roger After Dark in the atrium of Global Heritage Hall that same night.

Through these events, students are encouraged to take pride in their own identities, regardless of their race, religion, or sexuality. The week of programming seeks to celebrate those who do identify as LGBTQ+ and raise awareness for the struggles that many in this particular community face.