Parker’s Virtual Pride

Pride Committee Introduces the First Virtual Pride Week


Photo credit: Will Ehrlich

The 2019-2020 Pride Committee Heads at Committee Fest. Photo courtesy of Will Ehrlich.

As the Parker community entered the building during Parker’s Pride Week in 2019, they were handed colorful beaded necklaces that they wore throughout the day in celebration. Over the course of the week, students and faculty attended assemblies and Q&A sessions that focused on the stories and advice of LGBTQ+ members ranging from the Parker community to all over the world. This year, 2020 Pride Committee Heads, sophomores Daniel Silets, Samara Boyd, and Kiran Matthews, adapted to the new format for educating the student body virtually. 

 “The process for doing a virtual Pride Week was challenging. We wanted to still retain our goals of following community and creating a safe space for members of the queer community at Parker,” Matthews said. “While doing that virtually it can be difficult, but we had some good meetings and a lot of good ideas of things that we could do to bring people together and to forge that bond between allies and members of the queer community at Parker.”

Parker’s Pride Week takes place annually, and every day of the week represents a different color of the Pride Flag. Monday was red and symbolized life. The Pride Committee hosted a virtual Zoom meeting focused on what it means to be an LGBTQ+ ally and how allies should go about supporting their friends, family, and peers who might identify as being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Being an ally is being educated about queer topics and queer issues but also just being there for someone who comes out to you,” Silets said. “It’s also being educated enough and comfortable enough to call out people that say something that you know is homophobic or offensive.”

Tuesday represented the colors of orange and yellow, symbolizing healing and sunlight. The second day of Pride Week welcomed a visitor that works to benefit the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago. A virtual meeting was held in which Reyna Ortiz from Chicago House Social Services Agency (Chicago House) attended. The main focus of Chicago House is to underpin those affected by HIV/AIDS and provide a level of healthcare, employment, and housing support to the LGBTQ+ community. Ortiz grew up as a transgender woman in school, and the backlash and homophobia that she received growing up, she ended up becoming Prom Queen of her high school and is currently working to help members of the LGBTQ+ community across Chicago.

“I think Reyna Ortiz was a really good conversation that we had because she’s transgender, and not a lot of people at Parker know what’s like to be transgender and especially what it was like for her growing up,” Boyd said. 

The third day of Parker’s Pride Week, Wednesday, represented the color of green which symbolizes nature. Brian Richardson, spoke with the Parker community within a Zoom meeting. Richardson works at Lambda Legal, a nonprofit organization working to succeed in achieving civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Lambda Legal works to accomplish this goal through “impact litigation, education, and public policy work” according to the Lambda Legal website. Richardson spent the meeting educating the attendees on the mission of Lambda Legal and asking LGBTQ+ trivia questions to engage his audience.

Junior Ava Rosenberg attended Wednesday’s meeting out of personal interest. “I thought that it was really valuable to listen to, and I thought everyone there was really respectful,” Rosenberg said. “There weren’t too many people there, but you could tell that everyone that went wanted to know what was happening and was paying attention, and I think that that is the best way to have these meetings because then you get a smaller group of people that care about it instead of a larger group of people, where sometimes it may be disrespectful.”

Thursday, the fourth day of Pride Week, represented the color blue which symbolizes serenity. Throughout the week, the Pride Committee gave students the opportunity to submit images of an outfit that represents the daily color. Despite the fact that there was no specific event on Thursday, students were once again urged to send these photos to the Pride Committee Instagram account.

Friday, the fifth and final day of Pride Week, represented the color purple, symbolizing spirit. To conclude Pride Week, the Pride committee hosted a movie showing, featuring the popular 2018 film: “Love, Simon.” The film follows Simon Spier, a gay and closeted seventeen-year-old who forms a connection with one of his classmates online. The Parker community was encouraged to log on to a Zoom meeting at 2:30 p.m. where the movie was shown. 

Throughout the week, the Pride committee did many things to cultivate a sense of community in a virtual setting. One of these ideas included Zoom backgrounds for members of the Parker community to use throughout the week. The background featured the colors of the Pride flag and an indication of whether the user was an LGBTQ+ member or ally.

“It was a small touch but a really really cool idea that we came up with,” Matthews said. Over the course of the week, Pride Committee also included a “historical spotlight” in their emails. The historical spotlight accentuated LGBTQ+ figures in politics such as Sarah McBride, the first openly transgender state senator. The historical spotlight also highlighted renowned events in LGBTQ+ history, such as the Stonewall Riots.

Silets described the overall attendance from the Parker community in Pride week to be successful, “I would say the meetings were great, turn out was really nice and I think the Parker community showed up,” Silets said. “It was really nice to see that people wanted to hear these people’s stories.”