Through the Find My Community Event, Find My Style Event, and Find My Home Away From Home Event, the University of Iowa Pride Alliance Center celebrated Pride Week last week by promoting the discovery of self.
As groups of friends sat around circular tables at the Iowa Memorial Union Black Box Theater, friendly chatter and laughter could be heard in the space. Positive energy and support flowed from everyone present at the Find My Style event hosted by the Pride Alliance Center.
The event was one of three programs that took place during the week of March 21 to celebrate “Pride Week” – a spring celebration of Pride began last year at the University of ‘Iowa. Savannah DeGroot, a user interface student who led the organization and planning of the Find My Style event, said that while students have the opportunity to celebrate in the fall with LGBTQ History Month + and in the summer with Pride month, nothing celebrates Pride during the spring semester.
The Pride Alliance Center hosted its first Pride Week celebration of 2021 with virtual events themed around growing through adversity.
“We were just looking to do something to bring a little more celebration to the spring semester, especially since some students aren’t always there during the summer to enjoy the Iowa City Pride Fest,” DeGroot said.
Three events were organized during the week, all centered on discovery. The first event on March 22 was called Find My Community, where students were invited to the Petersen Residence to meet and learn more about the LBGTQ+ community.
The second event was Find My Style, where students could meet other members of the community and explore their own identity through fashion and style. The event featured hairstylists from Honeybee Hair Parlor who gave attendees consultations and free haircuts and set up a makeup and manicure station for anyone wanting to experiment with new styles.
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Tables lined the walls of the Black Box Theater, completely covered in various products. Skincare items, makeup, makeup remover, and nail polish were just a few of the different options available to attendees. Individuals skimmed through and filtered through the articles, making small talk about the struggles and excitement of makeup and styling.
UI freshman Eva Packer attended the Find My Style event after being invited by her housemates. Packer said the event hosted a great community and the goody bag element that allowed attendees to choose items they’d like to take home was fun.
“It was friendly and welcoming,” Packer wrote in an email to The Iowan Daily after the event. “[I was able to] meet new people, discover new interests and [it was] something to do without spending money.
As the main organizer of the event, DeGroot said they felt passionate about the style as a form of expression that everyone should be able to explore. They said it can be difficult to find safe spaces to express themselves, and so the goal of the Find My Style event was to create that environment for LGBTQ+ students at UI.
“Someone’s outward appearance is often so critical to a person’s gender journey and even a person’s sexuality journey,” DeGroot said. “It can be very expensive to do that – replacing a wardrobe to buy makeup products to, you know, do all those things. It’s a lot of emotional work.
The Pride Alliance Center also held a QT Closet pop-up at IMU for students to explore their style through clothing. QT Closet is a non-profit organization that provides free, gender-neutral or gender-affirming clothing. The IMU-hosted pop-up had an abundance of clothing and accessories in a range of sizes and styles. From shirts and shoes, to formal wear and jewelry, the QT Closet pop-up has serviced just about anyone looking to start their style journey.
The last event hosted by the Pride Alliance Center was titled Find My Home Away From Home and was held at the Pride House. The final event was simply to introduce students to the venue and let them know that there is a safe space for LGBTQ+ people on campus.
Going forward, DeGroot said there are plans to expand Pride Week, hopefully with UI support. Currently, all Pride Week events come out of the Pride Alliance Center, but DeGroot said they are working to increase their involvement.
“A goal for the future is to have, like the other partners on campus, also hold events during Pride week,” DeGroot said. “Maybe we can expand it a bit more campus-wide.”