Pride abounds at Worcester’s colleges and universities. No matter what campus you find yourself on, all of them have a variety of organizations for their LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and allies. These organizations include both student run clubs, which provide camaraderie and social engagements for students, as well as resource centers run by staff members to create safe places, community, and LGBTQIA+ training and counseling.
A place of community and welcoming for LGBTQIA+ students is essential on all of these campuses. This can be a literal place, such as The Lavender Lounge at WPI, as well as a figurative sense of place fostered in student groups such as Prism as Clark, Pride at Holy Cross, and The Alliance chapters at WPI, Worcester State, and Assumption. Worcester State, specifically, has many initiatives to increase visibility and inclusivity for their LGBTQIA+ students across the entirety of campus. They host training sessions including LGBTQIA+ 101, SafeZone & Bravespace, and Pronouns 101. They also offer courses which “incorporate LGBTQ content,” such as “The Queer City.” Both “community building and support is central” to Prism at Clark as well, as they aim to create not just social events for students but also resources, a queer library for example.
Coming out is celebrated through a variety of events and initiatives. Worcester State posts an ”Out and Ally List,” a voluntary list of LGTBQIA+ faculty and staff members as a resource for their student body. This list helps “to promote LGBTQIA+ awareness and visibility on campus and the Worcester State community.” Along the same lines, Assumption hosted a “Visibility Matters” event the previous school year, in which students and faculty told “their coming out stories to help students, faculty, staff, and administrators better understand their experiences on and off campus.” Holy Cross, as well, hosts a yearly “Coming out Coffee House” event, and WPI’s Alliance oSTEM organization celebrates National Coming Out Day in October.
Assumption University’s Allies club is excitedly revamping their organization. The previous school year the club was moved from the Campus Ministry to Student Affairs and “AU Allies now ha[ve] an advisor who openly identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community,” Dr. Carl Robert Keyes of the History Department, whom the club members self-selected. This coming year, Robert Keyes says one of the main focuses of the club, on top of “discussions about current events or experiences of LGBTQIA+ students [and…] activities for socializing and school/work/life balance,” will be continuing to achieve a greater visibility on campus.
Clark University continues to support LGBTQIA+ alumni, with their “LBGTQ+ Alumni Association.” One exciting event they are hosting this year is the Worcester Pride Wine Tasting at Canal District Wines. Attendees can sample local wines while “build[ing] community and reconnect[ing] with fellow LGBTQ+ Clarkies.” Holy Cross’s LGBTQ Alumni Network also provides many opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ alumni to keep in touch, including a biennial Cape weekend for alumni and their families in Provincetown; a career panel to discuss experiences being out in the workplace; and a Homecoming Weekend LGBTQ Alumni Brunch.
The events hosted by all of these schools across Worcester run the spectrum from fun, The Drag Show at WPI and Pride Prom at Clark and WPI, to solemn, such as Clark’s recognition of Transgender Day of Remembrance. One of the most celebratory events hosted by many schools throughout the area is the Lavender Graduation, a ceremony specifically for LGBTQIA+ graduates in order to commemorate their accomplishments on campus. Lavender Graduations are held at The College of the Holy Cross, Clark University, and Worcester State University, who celebrated their first Lavender Graduation this past spring.
As Worcester’s schools begin opening their classrooms and dorms for the 2023-2024 year, students can count on these LGBTQIA+ organizations reconvening, planning events, and fostering inclusivity and awareness throughout campus.