LGBTQ community and allies rally together

Ti Windisch

The 7th annual Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Ally March and rally recognized both the LGBTQ community and allies to the community in Reeve Memorial Union on Thursday, April 14th.
LGBTQ Resource Center Director Liz Cannon said the event is an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on those allied with the LGBTQ community at UW Oshkosh.
“This event is a time for us to reflect on why and how we are allies to the community,” Cannon said. “Whether we’re inside of it or outside of it.”
According to Cannon, the LGBTQ Ally March also provides a chance to remember the strong LGBTQ presence at UWO.
“We’re here to celebrate this community, and we on this campus have so much to celebrate when we see the courage and creativity of our diverse LGBTQ+ students,” Cannon said.
LGBTQ Resource Center intern Kao Vang said the march is a way for UWO students to show support.
“Basically, it’s just to bring the community together and show our support for the LGBTQ community,” Vang said.
Cannon said the term ally is more than just a title, and it should mean action as well as identity.
“When I have reflected on what it means to be an ally, I become more and more sure that ally is a verb, rather than a noun, although I respect it as an important identity for many,” Cannon said. “I see it as a verb that I take out and exercise every day.”
University Police Sgt. Donovan Heavener was honored at the event for being an LGBTQ ally, but he said being an ally is just part of his job.
“I’m really honored to be recognized tonight for being an ally for the LGBTQ community,” Heavener said. “I have to be honest, when I was told about this great honor…I said ‘I’m just doing my job.’”
UWO graduate student Anthony Klingert was also honored for being an ally at the event and said the allies in attendance can help make changes to their society.
“We are the peaceful weapons that can bring change to a violent world,” Klingert said.
According to Klingert, he is tired of being part of a society that is not open and accepting to all people.
“I’m sick of us living in a world that can be hostile to us as we simply try to live with who we are,” Klingert said.
UWO freshman Nicolas Tovar said he and his Beta Theta Pi brothers attended the event to show support.
“I came out, first and foremost, to support the Ally March,” Tovar said. “Secondly to support my fraternity, who’s also supporting the Ally March.”
According to Tovar, the cause behind the Ally March makes it a worthwhile event.
“I think it’s a great event,” Tovar said. ‘It’s great to see a whole bunch of people coming together for a cause.”
According to Cannon, the ally rally is held to appreciate the LGBTQ community and allies in Oshkosh.
“The biggest reason the rally is held is threefold: to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, to recognize what it truly means to ally with a community such as this one, and to acknowledge the work of so many allies here at UW Oshkosh and in the Greater Oshkosh community,” Cannon said.
Cannon said the march serves to show just how many LGBTQ individuals and allies are in the community.
“The biggest reason for the march itself is visibility: to show the tip of the iceberg of the number of allies and LGBTQ+ individuals in our University and Oshkosh community who are dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals and to serve as a reminder to bystanders that there is work left to be done to combat homo-, bi-, trans- and ace-prejudice,” Cannon said.
According to Cannon, the March went smoothly and participants were treated well by bystanders in the community.
“There were no protesters and unwelcomed incidents that I was aware of,” Cannon said. “Cars honked in appreciation and bystanders waved and cheered.”
Cannon said students interested in becoming allies themselves can still do so by learning more and getting involved, even if they missed the Ally March.
“Go through a SAFE training, if you haven’t already or if you haven’t in the last couple of years, and seek out the LGBTQ Resource Center and Rainbow Alliance for HOPE programs which address topics you need to know more about,” Cannon said.
Cannon said interested students can contact the LGBTQ Resource Center if they would like to donate their time to being allies.
“The LGBTQ Resource Center is organizing a volunteer program, which we hope to launch next year, and we would love to start making contacts with people who would like to participate,” Cannon said.