Norfolk, VA – ODU Out, the LGBTQ student alliance at Old Dominion University, will host the second annual Pride Fest on Saturday, Oct. 26. This celebration of diversity and inclusivity among students, faculty and staff acknowledges the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community on campus and throughout the greater Hampton Roads region.
“ODU Pride Fest is a chance to show there is an LGBTQ community on campus and that we are working toward a better future for the next generation,” said Mikey Fenn, president of ODU Out, the university’s primary LGBTQ student alliance.
The event will be held on the Runte Quad, located in front of the ODU Student Recreation Center, at 11 a.m. and will feature tables from numerous ODU offices and organizations that, in one way or another, support diversity and acceptance of LGBTQ individuals.
Donations can be made at the festival to support numerous LGBTQ nonprofits, including Access AIDS, The Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project and Equality Virginia, which work to raise awareness of the fight for equal LGBTQ rights on the local, state and national level.
Hampton Roads Business Outreach (HRBOR) and Hampton Roads’ Queer Chamber of Commerce have partnered with ODU Pride Fest this year to bring local LGBTQ-supportive businesses to ODU in order to offer internship and potential job opportunities to students who want to work in environments that are inclusive and accepting.
ODU Pride Fest will welcome national LGBTQ ally and recording artist Randi Driscol as the event’s featured entertainer. She will perform at 1 p.m. Driscol has appeared for numerous benefits and organizations throughout the country that are dedicated to the LGBTQ cause, including The Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Human Rights Campaign. Her song “What Matters” has raised more than $45,000 for The Matthew Shepard Foundation, and was recognized in Advocate Magazine as one of the Top 10 LGBTQ anthems of 2004.
Driscol’s music has been heralded by feminist and queer rights communities, with accolades such as the “Essential Piece” Award from the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the “Lilith’s Child” Performer of the Year award.
Her work in contemporary music, as well the personal insight she provides during speaking engagements at campuses across America, has been invaluable to the movement in terms of educating the public about LGBTQ rights. The Golden Voice Award and The Campy Award from the Creative Planet School for the Arts and Campus Pride attest to that. She has most recently worked on a new song, “365 Days,” with Grammy Award winner Larry Mitchell. It can be found on iTunes.
During the festival, the NOH8 Campaign will host a photo shoot in the Student Recreation Center from 1 to 4 p.m. The cost is $40 for an individual photo or $25 per person in a group photo. The campaign has hosted photo shoots in more than 11 countries, and all proceeds go toward erasing hate and combating discrimination. Thanks to fundraising efforts by ODU’s Division of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services, ODU students, faculty and staff will be given a $20 discount (with valid ODU ID).
Four years ago, celebrity photographer Adam Bouska initiated the NOH8 Campaign to raise funds to campaign against Proposition 8 in California. Even after the Supreme Court’s ruling, efforts are still being made to reinstate and support the discriminatory proposition. The campaign is now 30,000 photos strong, and it is eager to add ODU Monarchs and Hampton Roads community members to the growing list.
“This event shows us more than what it’s like to be a Monarch,” said Connor Norton, the ODU Pride Fest’s coordinator and founder. “It shows us what it means to be a human being. Too many people let prejudice, hate or assumptions negatively impact their outlook on the world. We want ODU Pride Fest to show the Hampton Roads area that not only is pride and respect for all diversities the Monarch way; it should also be the human way.”
Co-sponsoring offices and organizations at ODU and local businesses include: the Center for Student and Civic Engagement, Mick’s Print-N-Ship, the Office of Leadership and Student Involvement, ODU Gay-Cultural Studies, the Office of Intercultural Relations, ODU Out, Housing and Residence Life, Rocket Direct Communications, the Student Activities Council, Safe Space, the Student Government Association, Student Engagement and Enrollment Services, The Starving Artists and the ODU Women’s Center.
By Derek Page
Editor in Chief