Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

On Saturday, Oct. 1, the borough of West Chester was going to hold their very first “Outfest” in lieu of October being National LGBTQIA+ History Month.

Originally, Women’s and Gender Studies students received an email on Tuesday, Sept. 27, about the cancellation of Outfest. In this email, there was a mention of threatened violence if this event were to take place. Although this event was only meant to be a rally and a march for equality, people from the borough expressed their strong distaste, especially the drag show part. 

According to an article published by The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sept. 22, the West Chester Borough Republican Committee played a large role in the cancellation, citing objections to the event. In a Facebook post on Sept. 19, the day before the Borough Council was planned to confirm the event, the Committee claimed the event to be “inappropriate” due to drag performers and prompted community members to contact council members to express dissent. In the year of 2022, why are Republicans still harping over drag queens and kings?

October is a month to celebrate LGBTQIA+ history and standing together in solidarity. National Coming Out Day is Oct. 11, which lets members of the community share their stories and struggles. This is a month of recognition — a month where we should be able to celebrate who we really are. In the borough of West Chester, one would think that this would be possible, but the reality is that it is not.

West Chester University has a very diverse and inclusive community, so it would only make sense for the borough to hold its very own fest. As we are nine months into this year, it is still very apparent that homophobia and transphobia exists within and outside of the school’s community. These last three months with Roe vs. Wade being overturned has not been good for the LGBTQIA+ community, as several states are now taking away our basic human rights.

Our right to rally and march has been stripped from us here; we do not want to cause any harm or have our message twisted. All we want is recognition and to be accepted. Although this event may be canceled, it will not silence our voices. This Friday, Sept. 30, the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sent an email out, saying that we students should stand in solidarity on the quad. Stand in Solidarity, as they say, is to celebrate our pride and allyship with each other and the community. Our voices will be heard, whether the Republican Committee likes it or not.

We have struggled for so long, but unfortunately, we are moving backwards. This is another good example of people in power who do not want anything to do with us. Being seen, being heard and making a difference was the goal of this event. It will now become the goal of Stand in Solidarity as faculty members and students will be able to discuss their feelings. There are plenty of us — on and around campus — who are upset. As much as politics would like to think that they can erase us, they cannot. We will persist, as we have for so long. 

We will keep pushing forward to be seen and heard here in the borough of West Chester. Hate will not stop us from existing — it will not push us into the ground. We will keep fighting until there is an Outfest in October.

Kayla Redfern is a third year English major with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. kr983550@wcupa.edu.

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