By Billy Huntsman
Several organizations at New Mexico State University will spend the month of October promoting culture and diversity on campus, in the hopes people at NMSU will feel more comfortable in coming out.
The inaugural Outober, sponsored in conjunction with NMSU’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Resource Center (which, on October 1, officially becomes LGBT Programs), English Department, Stonewall, and Gender Diverse Aggies, will encompass the whole of October, with events every week.
“The thinking was that we always have GLBTQ (Awareness) Week and that’s usually not until April,” says Zooey Sophia Pook, a coordinator with LGBT Programs. “So we have all these news students coming in who aren’t necessarily exposed to our office, and our campus, I feel, has a great opportunity for culture to be promoted.”
To create cultural diversity all year long, instead of focusing on one month, so that different cultures can learn from each other was the inspiration behind Outober, says Pook.
“Who they (the LGBT community) are is part of our larger culture,” she says.
In support of this, a panel discussion with professors and scholars from the Women’s Studies, Sociology, and Communication Departments will take place as part of Outober on Wednesday, October 14, at 7 p.m. in the Domenici Auditorium.
“(The discussion will be about) not just about LGBT identity, but about identity in general,” says Pook. “I think that’s one of the big things about this month, we’re not just promoting our (LGBT) culture, we’re promoting all culture. It’s very important to us to be in tune with all the diversity on campus, to promote that, to create a lively environment.”
Other events taking place during Outober include a Doc Illingsworth and SelfSays concert outside Corbett Center on Tuesday, October 6, at noon.
“I wanted to come up with something as diverse as possible,” Pook says, “that would reach as many people as possible, and not just seem like some kind of exhibit of us, but something that everyone could participate in and feel proud and out about, regardless of who they are.”
To achieve this, Pook says the decision to host a hip-hop concert was “obvious.”
A third event, a drag show, will take place Thursday, October 22, in the Corbett Auditorium.
“Drag shows are one of the biggest elements of gay culture, so it seemed a fairly good choice,” Pook says.
The show will feature Miss Gay USofA Newcomer 2015 Mari Jane, as well as local and regional performers.
The final event, on October 28 at 4:30 p.m., will be a Campus Health Center open house, with free health screenings and a panel discussion to promote the use of medicine and going to the doctor.
Visit nmsuroundup.wordpress.com often for our coverage of these events!