By Kiera Thornton
As a part of Rainbow Week 2016, Out in UL held an interactive event in the Students’ Union Courtyard on Wednesday 9th November which allowed people on campus to contribute to the society’s Gender and Sexuality Wall. The wall was painted with a total of eighteen different colours, each representing one sexual orientation or gender identity. Passers-by who visited the courtyard between 12-3pm were invited to paint sections on the wall to represent their own orientation and gender, eventually filling each of the wall’s segments with a diverse range of colour.
The Gender and Sexuality Wall was created with the aim of bringing about awareness for lesser-represented sexual orientations and gender identities. This corresponds with one of Out in UL’s aims as a society and a key objective of Rainbow Week; showcasing the diversity of sexuality, gender expression and gender identity among UL’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community. This event allowed queer identities to be publicly showcased to the entire university population, in hope of bringing the LGBTQ+ community and the wider community on campus together.
With people’s perceptions of orientation and gender beginning to evolve beyond the binary ideals of the past, the Gender and Sexuality Wall event was crucial not just for showcasing diverse identities but for educating others. Indeed, many students approached Out in UL’s stand throughout the afternoon, with the intention of learning more about the topics of sexuality and gender identity. Students were also afforded with the opportunity to take a quiz on the various LGBTQ+ pride flags to enter a raffle, with one lucky person winning a free Christmas Days ticket. All of those who took part in the event kept an open mind on the subject of queer identity, and certainly Out in UL successfully educated many people with this event.
This event was one of many events held by Out in UL during Rainbow Week, an annual event hosted by the society which marked its sixth year and took place during Week 10 of the semester, November 7th-11th. Education is consistently a key aim of Rainbow Week, and other educational events held during the week included the workshop on feminism and the LGBTQ+ community, delivered in conjunction with UL Feminist Society on the Thursday of Rainbow Week. Out in UL also held Queer in the Courtyard – another interactive event which invited people to reflect on what the word “queer” meant to them – and teamed up with Limerick-based charity GOSHH to hold a workshop on the gender spectrum.
Among the other events which happened during Rainbow Week were the “Past, Present, Future” event in the Scholars Club – a nod to Out in UL’s history, allowing members to reflect on the past of the society, while looking to our hopefully bright and long future – and UL Drama Society’s “Stigma”, a production about mental health which featured stories from two of our committee members. Of course, Rainbow Week would not have been complete without the staple “Big Night Out” in Strokers on Thursday 10th November, a fantastic event with performances from Notorious K.I.D. and Alice Pow, as well as music from DJ Eoghan Clark. The ethos of Rainbow Week is “education, fun and educational fun”, and this year’s events most certainly lived up to this objective.
(Originally published in An Focal – ULSU Student Newspaper.)