Festivities at the University of Kansas will celebrate queer and trans people throughout the month for Gaypril, an annual occasion featuring a variety of events by the KU Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity (SGD), according to a news release from KU.
There are more than 20 events lined up throughout the monthlong “celebration of Pride,” including a sex-positivity art show, lavender graduation, a critical look at homonormativity in the city and a discussion about drag history preceding the Kansas Drag Showcase (which will feature six secret performers).
Gaypril is described in the news release as a celebration that gives people in the KU community a place to outwardly express and celebrate their various queer and transgender identities, and “as an important opportunity for everyone on campus — regardless of identity — to involve themselves in educational and celebratory programming on queer and trans communities and issues.”
Ash Wilson, director of KU’s Center for SGD, said in the news release that Gaypril events allow KU to “showcase the diversity, skills and stories of the community, as well as pay tribute to our QT elders and the origin stories of the community.”
“We want the KU community to know they are welcome to attend regardless of how they identify,” Wilson said in the release. “These events are not just for the QT community. They’re for everyone. Being able to locate yourself within queer and trans culture is a way straight and cisgender folks can work to make KU a safer community for everyone.”
Here’s a closer look at some of the events offered throughout the month, according to the SGD event calendar:
Zine Night With the Emily Taylor Center
6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 11, at the SGD, located on the fourth floor of the Kansas Union:
This event, which kicks off Gaypril, is a joint session of the Emily Taylor Center’s Zine Club. Here, you’ll learn about the “queer and feminist roots of zine-making as we work to make a collective zine which asks the question: ‘What does the queer future look like?’”
Be You @ KU Picture
12:30 to 1 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the campanile:
This year marks a return to the Be You @ KU picture, and the center “can’t wait to celebrate it with you!” The event is open to the entire community, including allies. Though everyone is encouraged to wear their KU Inclusive Jayhawk shirts for the picture, there will also be a selection of Pride flags and props available.
“Feel free to bring some of your favorite (props) as we mark the year with a picture to prove that we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re succeeding!”
Sex Positivity Art Show
Opening at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 18, at the Kansas Union Gallery, this art will be available to view through the end of April.
This event is in partnership with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Health Education Resource Office, and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center.
“We hope that you get a chance to view the pieces which ponder sexual pleasure and sex positivity outside of the white gaze.”
13th Annual Lavender Graduation
7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, at the Burge Union, Forum D:
This is the 13th annual Lavender Graduation, which honors and recognizes graduating QT students. As part of the Lavender Graduation, each year, five Pride Awards are given out to recognize alumni, faculty, staff, students, programs and research from the year. To nominate someone for a Pride Award, visit this link. Attendees must RSVP by April 17. RSVP with this form to be included in the celebration.
Drag Your Life Up Makeup Tutorial
4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 26 at the SGD:
Two drag artists will share their makeup tips in a two-hour tutorial and reveal insider secrets to makeup techniques like baking, sculpting, contouring and gluing brows, which are commonly used now, but have “long been part of the drag performer’s repertoire.”
Kansas Drag Showcase II
6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, April 30, in the Kansas Union Ballroom.
“It’s back and better than ever!” Starting at 7 p.m., a variety of drag performers from across Kansas will put on a show “the likes of which you’ve never seen!” The show is free to KU students, faculty, and staff. General admission is $5, and tickets can be found at this link. Proceeds benefit The Trans Closet, a “gender-affirming resource” at KU.
The secret lineup of six performers is slowly being revealed throughout the month of April on the SGD and Student Union Activities’s Instagrams, @sgd.ku and @suaevents. Meet and greet sessions are being offered, and those interested can sign up here.
The evening will begin with a Pride event from 6 to 7 p.m., in which anyone can connect with community and campus patterns while waiting for the show to start.
Interested in getting involved throughout the year?
Here’s a look at some events the SGD regularly holds:
Gaymer Night is a weekly event in which queer and trans gamers “have a chance to relax, meet some new friends, and build a community of QT gamers of all genres.” Gaymer Night takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. each Wednesday in the Center for SGD, on the fourth floor of the Kansas Union.
Queer Students of Color have an opportunity from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month to meet at the SGD for a “social and discussion space.”
“We hope to build community and create visibility for queer people of color on the KU Lawrence campus and provide space to build community, plan activism, and enjoy each other’s company.”
QT Film Club helps students “feel less alone” as they choose and watch films “made about QT experiences for and by QT folx” and discuss the movie together afterwards. The club meets from 4 to 7 p.m. every other Tuesday at the SGD.
Queer Coffee Hour takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Tuesday at the SGD, for people to come to the center, have some coffee and “spill the tea” (though the event does urge people to not actually spill their beverages).
TRANSlations is a monthly social and discussion space that meets from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the SGD for trans students to “meet, build community across campus, and generally enjoy each other’s company.”
QT Grad Coalition is a social and discussion space group that meets twice monthly for queer and trans students across all tracks to hang out and build a community across campus.
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Emma Bascom (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from December 2021 through May 2022. Read more of her work for the Times here.