Temple University is celebrating its 10th annual National Coming Out Week this month with a series of events examining the theme “Love Is Intersectional.”
This year’s theme considers the multifaceted identities — from race to class to gender — that make up the LGBTQIA+ community, said Nu’Rodney Prad, director of student engagement for the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership (IDEAL). A transparent X will serve as the theme’s logo, signifying both intersectionality and the Roman numeral 10 for NCOW’s 10th year.
“I think ‘Love Is Intersectional,’ for us, means that love comes in various forms, various shapes, various colors, but always remembering that there are often these intersectional identities that get forgotten. We want people to be aware of that in order for us to be a harmonious community,” said Prad.
IDEAL has eight events planned for NCOW, each an opportunity for attendees to socialize while they learn. Prad said he’s most excited for the annual drag show.
“It’s entertaining, but it’s also educational because we’re able to talk about the ball community as well, so it supports our intersectional approach.”
The drag show will be a riff on “Pose,” the FX show that explores the underground LGBTQ culture of 1980s New York, where youth would join “houses” to compete in “balls” — drag or dance events where participants would imitate different classes and genders. Cory Wade, the first openly gay contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” is hosting.
Next on Prad’s list of favorites is a community forum with featured speaker Amber Hikes, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs. The town-hall talk will discuss race and LGBTQIA+ identity.
“So we’ll speak about, ‘What is the experience of being a gay black trans woman,’ for instance,” he said.
IDEAL is revisiting the discussion about race because it’s topical, Prad added. “To be honest, [choosing race] was in response to various articles covering issues of racism, systemic issues that may have occurred within the LGBTQIA+ community in Philadelphia and around the country as well.”
Philadelphia has been one of several U.S. cities experiencing increased rates of violence against transgender women. Early last month, Shantee Tucker, 30, was one of three black transgender women killed in the United States in one week, and one of five transgender women of color killed in Philadelphia since 2013.
Reaching the larger Phila-delphia community is one of IDEAL’s priorities for its growing programming. A tabling event Oct. 7 in the Gayborhood will present IDEAL’s resources to Center City residents. A fundraising gala, open to students and non-students, will round out the festivities on Oct. 12.
The gala will commemorate NCOW’s inaugural organizers and feature performances, food and drinks. Sixty percent of funds raised will be donated to a yet-to-be-determined organization benefiting the LGBTQIA+ community.
Temple University’s NCOW runs Oct. 5-12. For event information, visit https://sites.temple.edu/ncowequality/events/.