SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – During LGBTQ+ Heritage Month, Missouri State University (MSU) is celebrating to make its students feel appreciated no matter who they are. MSU has been having plenty of special, themed events in October.
OzarksFirst spoke with Elliot Barber, a student who says it makes them feel welcome.
“It’s so important,” Barber said. “For a lot of people, getting to college is the first time they’re able to have your freedom from your family and have time to figure out your identity more fully. Being able to see other people like you, especially in a place like Missouri where you don’t always see that it’s really powerful to see how much community you have locally. A lot of people don’t know that when they first get to school.”
Barber helped put together some of the activities this month. Events include:
“Finding people you know are going to relate in some way, it’s so much different being able to talk to them about what you’re going through than somebody who has never been through it,” Barber said. “I think that’s important to have. I hope that it builds more of a connected community. I think that sometimes we get all spread out and don’t realize how much community we have here.”
MSU started October with a social hour at its new multicultural resource center. Some events coming up are a queer and trans people of color panel and a banquet-style gathering at the end of the month. Anyone can go to these events, and it’s free.
“We try to incorporate just recognizing the accomplishments of queer activists,” Grey Garris with MSU said. “Making sure that queer students on the campus feel welcome, appreciated and recognized in some capacity. And that they actually have a designated event space for them to come to talk about issues relevant to them and socialize with one another.”
Grey Garris is the assistant director of multicultural programs and LGBTQ+ student services. He says the University has a different approach to its celebration this year.
“Focusing on more of the community aspect is a bit different as opposed to solely focusing on the education part of it,” Garris said. “Transitioning our heritage month banquets into heritage month socials has been helpful for that because instead of making it a formal event where people just show up for a specific thing and then exit, they’ll actually to be stick around, socialize and meet one another.”