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28 March 2012

Praise: Pride Week at Norwich University

The last week of March is not when one usually thinks of Pride Week, usually a Summer event timed to be near the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots or a similar historic event.  But the Norwich University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Allies Club is holding it this week.  Let's phrase this another way, the oldest military academy in the United States, founded in 1819 as a military academy, is holding its first Pride Week.

The Norwich University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Allies Club held its first meeting the day of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT).  From their blurb on the Student Clubs page
The Norwich University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Allies club (NULGBTQA) was founded on the day of Don't Ask Don't Tell’s repeal, Sept. 20, 2011. The club specializes in providing a fun, engaging and safe environment for LGBTQ students and their allies to share ideas and information.
Each week the club meets in a open, glass-walled area within the Wise Campus Center to discuss current or historical issues of LGBTQ culture. The positive camaraderie of the atmosphere has been tremendously successful in creating an environment of personal growth and self-confidence.
It is the first of its kind in the nation, stemming from the oldest private military college in America. And from the day of its founding, its members have lived by their motto that states; “You Are Not Alone.“
Despite DADT, Norwich was not a school that explicitly discriminated according to the Washington Post.
As an institution, Norwich never banned open homosexuality in the corps of cadets, but because many of its students were destined for the military, which prior to the end of “don’t ask don’t tell” the law served to keep people quiet, said Norwich spokeswoman Daphne Larkin.
It is not surprising that some don't like the new club, but at Norwich they work together anyway.
Some members of Norwich’s Christian Fellowship have been uncomfortable with gay student club, but the two organizations have worked together, with members of each attending some of the other’s meetings, said biology emeritus professor Carlos Pinkham, the Christian group’s faculty adviser.
“We make it clear to them that we use the bible as our guide and that as a result we can’t condone the stuff they do,” Pinkham said. “But the Bible is also equally clear, in fact, even more clear. ... Being judgmental about the sin without extending love to the sinner is another form of sin.”
The week includes many activities (two activities each day, plus information tables and booths).

Monday:  LGBTQ Bias/Harassment and bullying; Tie Dye T-Shirt.
Tuesday:  Rapid HIV Testing; Condom Olympics.
Wednesday:  Anatomy of Hate (Film); Dinner and Chat with local Veteran.
Thursday:  Arts and Crafts; Ally Presentation.
Friday:  HIV Prevention; Lord, save us from your followers (Film).
Saturday:  Queer Prom; Free Love Dance.

Amazingly, the film on Friday, Lord, Save Us from Your Followers, is co-sponsored by the Christian Fellowship.  I know that many have come a long way in the very short time since the repeal of DADT, but the students of Norwich University have traveled further than I imagined possible in less than a year.  Kudos to all the students who are working together.  Bravo!

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