This week on campus, it was LGBTA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally) Pride Week. With numerous events going on throughout the week, including a rally and a parade, it was the perfect opportunity for the LGBTA community to wear their pride. We talked to a couple active members of the group and found out what they like to wear in order to let everyone know who they are.
Freshman Troy Armstrong sports three pins on his backpack every day while walking to class.
“I have three on there right now…there’s one that says ‘Gay,’ one that says ‘Pride,’ and one that says ‘Penn State Lives Queer.’ I have a couple of other ones in my room that I switch out,” Armstrong says.
Albeit popular among the LGBTA community, pins aren’t the only way Armstrong displays his pride.
“I just got two shirts that say ‘Penn State Lives Queer’ that I plan on putting into my regular clothing cycle,” Armstrong says. “I have a pair of rainbow suspenders that I bust out for special occasions, all little things. I’m not waving a flag every day.”
In addition to illustrating individuality, these articles also project a bigger message.
“Basically it means that there’s no chance of being mistaken for something I’m not,” Armstrong says. “It’s just another way to be myself and be very comfortable with myself. So many people in our community are put into these boxes for so long, like you have to pretend to be a way people will accept. You can see right on my [backpack] strap right there that I am gay, I am proud of that, and I am not changing.”
Like Armstrong, active community member and PSU alumnus Aaron Maiolo has specific items he wears not only for Penn State’s LGBTA Pride Week, but other occasions as well.
“I do a lot of work with New York City pride…One year I wore a rainbow flag as a cape or I just have my bracelets. I have a rainbow hemp belt. I’ll wear heels now and then just because I enjoy it and I like the way they look,” Maiolo says. “This year I’m working for New York City Pride as an organizer so I’m going to have the shirt. Little stuff, nothing hyper-crazy. It was crazier when I was in freshman and sophomore year of high school.”
Maiolo was the emcee for the rally on the steps of Old Main earlier this week and is a more public member in the LGBTA community. He realizes not everyone in the community is as vocal but feels they can still present who they are with what they wear.
“There is, without argument, a list of stereotypes that someone could name that says ‘What does a gay guy look like?’ or ‘What does a lesbian look like?’ or ‘What does someone who’s transgender look like?’ The vast majority of the LGBT community doesn’t fit that,” he says. “So, having apparel and accessories is a chance to declare yourself without having to tell it to people, a good way for people who aren’t necessarily comfortable speaking up without being prompted to have their identity publicly known without having to get up on a podium and lecture.”
This is just how some of the LGBTA community wears their pride. But regardless of who you are, what you wear should always reflect you. Whether it’s pins, t-shirts, capes or whatever it may be, let the world know the true you and don’t be afraid to be proud.
Photo by Ashley Zucker