‘Represented and Proud’
Kent State University's welcoming atmosphere and diverse population is what many students love about Kent State.
This week began the annual photo shoot for the Flashes of Pride Poster, which features the faces, names, gender identity and majors of some of Kent State’s LGBTQ+ community and allies.
“The Flashes of Pride campaign is all about showing visibility and pride around the LGBTQ community,” said Ken Ditlevson, director of the LGBTQ+ Center. "I think a lot of folks are fearful when they come to college, that they’re one of the only people in that community. So, we’ve designed this project to really show that visibility and pride year-round.”
Every year 3,000 copies are printed and spread on numerous Kent State campuses and the downtown Kent area.
“It makes me proud to be both a queer person and a Kent State student,” Colleen Dinan, senior sociology major, said. “I feel represented and proud that we get to do something like this where we can show that pride across campus."
Kent State began its version of this poster on Oct. 11, 2015, to celebrate National Coming Out Day after Ditlevson toured Ohio University’s LGBTQ Center.
“The project was borrowed with pride from Ohio University. They had this concept that they were using and doing. So, I met with the director and expressed my inspiration and asked if we could borrow their idea,” Ditlevson said. “One of the athletic representatives, Angie Hall, who's on our LGBTQ’s action team that is composed of volunteers from across the university, came up with the name which pulled in the Flash concept.”
For some Kent State students being featured is a part of their coming out journey.
“This is important for me to be a part of this because I want it as a reminder for my first year coming out and embracing my truth,” graduate student Jehlani White said. “It's an honor to have the opportunity to embrace my identity, show my pride in my identity and in my name. It felt like a moment of self-love that will always hold a special place in my heart.”
White participated in the Flashes of Pride Poster to celebrate a legal name change.
This event is not only impacting current students but also shows future students how accepting the Kent State community is.
“The first time I saw the poster I didn’t realize people were very actively out in a community sense,” said freshman studio art major Camden Adams. “I felt like this would be very good for me to show others that.”
This will be the eighth year of the poster since skipping 2020 due to COVID-19.
“Being queer has been a part of my life since high school, but I’ve never been openly out,” junior studio art major Lauren Pabst said. “It’s nice to just be able to finally do something that put me out there. It's good to show people that it’s safe to be out, and we are showing people we are just like everyone else.”
A second photo session for the poster will be held Wednesday, Sept. 6, and this year’s poster will be revealed at the Flashes of Pride Unveiling Party on Wednesday, Oct. 11.