Mesa celebrates its first LGBTQ+ week

A booth at the LGBTQ+ Celebration week.

Mesa Office of Communications

A booth at the LGBTQ+ Celebration week.

Isabelle Rozansky, Opinions Editor

San Diego Mesa College’s first LGBTQ+ celebration week will kick off on Oct. 15, the week after National Coming Out Day, which takes place on Oct. 11. There will be a number of educational yet entertaining events, put on by students, professors, and local community organizations and their members.

The organizer of this week of events is Dr. Michael Harrison, Spanish professor, member of the LGBTQ+ subcommittee task force, and advisor of Mesa’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance. Harrison said, “the idea started as early as last fall, as a series of conversations between faculty, staff, and students in the GSA.” The idea was to have their own week long celebration, like Mesa does with many subjects, such as Club Rush or Cultural Unity week. 

The activities will begin on Tuesday, with four different educational workshops beginning at 9:35 a.m., in room G-102. The first activity is “Talking About Gender”, where a panel of community members, and volunteers from the GSA will discuss “issues surrounding gender identity and expression in the LGBTQ+ spectrum.” After that starting at 11:30 will be “Queer Sex Ed” where three professors, Gloria Kim, Jaye Van Kirk, and Mary Gwin, will talk about sexual education for the LGBTQ+ community, many details of which are not discussed in a typical high school, or even college, health class. The next activity at 12:45 will be “Queer Artistic Expression and Narrative”, hosted by Harrison and Jorge Villalobos, an English professor at Mesa. According to Harrison, for his part he plans to talk about his dissertation on the study of queer comic books from Spain, and Villalobos and his class will be presenting the “narrative expressions in the LGBT community connected to the Mexican American experience” that they have been working on. The last event on Tuesday, titled “This is Me: Emerging LGBTQ+ Voices” will consist of people sharing their stories and experiences as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and begins at 6:30 p.m., in Mesa Commons Room 211. 

Wednesday, people will get to meet local drag queens, and take part in a Q&A segment followed by a performance by the queens. Drag queens Paris Sukomi Max, Lolita Von Tease, Barbie Z and Babette Schwartz will be here at 6:30 p.m., in the Apolliad Theatre. 

Students will walk onto campus on Thursday, to an outdoor fair, with different tents from student clubs and vendors as well as community partners set up, such as the San Diego LGBT Community Center. Clubs including the GSA, Anthropology Club, and Fashion Club will be in attendance. These clubs will be showcasing how they connect to LGBTQ+ culture, in an attempt to both promote the clubs, and showcase the intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ community. 

The GSA will be at their booth on Thursday selling tickets to the final event of the week, the Spectrum Masquerade Ball. The dance is open to all students, with tickets costing $7 beforehand, or $10 at the door. The purpose of this ball, Harrison said, is to “give everybody a chance to have the prom or homecoming dance they may not have gotten, or had a subpar experience at. The idea is for everyone to have a fun, welcoming experience.” It is a formal event, with masks, food, and music. 

In addition to selling tickets, the GSA booth will have a mask decorating station, for those who may not have the chance to obtain one otherwise, or who just want to make their own. Additionally, members of the GSA and Fashion Club have been working with The Stand, running a formal wear drive for those who need clothing to attend the dance. Students can go to The Stand to see if they have something they need for the ball. The Fashion Club will also be doing moderate alterations for free. 

According to Harrison, one of the best parts of the event is how it is “simultaneously student and faculty driven. The Fashion Club is preparing presentations, the drama department, the Dean of Equity and Inclusion, the diversity committee…everyone stepped in and helped contribute.”