On May 26, Portland State University (PSU) hosted its final Pride in May event, in collaboration with the school’s Campus Rec and Queer Student Services (QRC) departments. Students and staff gathered for a kickball party in the Urban Plaza. Over 50 people attended to not only showcase their support, but have fun as well.
Craig Leets Jr., the coordinator of Queer Student Services, discusses the importance of partnerships such as this in creating welcoming environments for LGBT students, particularly in recreational spaces.
CR: How did the partnership with the Campus Rec Department and QRC come about?
CL: Campus Rec and the QRC have been working together for years. For the kickball event, the QRC sent a solicitation to departments across the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs inviting them to submit events for our annual Pride in May celebration. We were delighted when Campus Rec responded with multiple events to continue our collaborative work that has been happening all year. These events included: the Pride in May Trans-Affirming Fitness Group, Splash Mob! Pride Edition Pool Party and the Pride Kickball Party.
CR: What else would you like other campus rec departments to know about this partnership?
CL: Recreation and, by extension, recreation facilities, can be spaces that foster essentialist notions of gender and sexuality, which create an unwelcoming, unfriendly environment for queer and trans people. Because Campus Rec and the QRC are aware of this history with recreational space, we have worked together for years to ensure queer and trans people at PSU feel comfortable accessing this facility.
Collaborative events between Campus Recreation centers and LGBT Student Services are essential to ensure that queer and trans student, faculty, staff, alumni and community members are aware that Campus Rec centers are spaces for them. Without events like these and intentional outreach to these communities, queer and trans people might assume that there is not a place for them in these centers.
CR: What kind of feedback or response did you receive surrounding the kickball event?
CL: Everyone who attended the event expressed appreciation and great satisfaction with the event. Students asked for similar events to this event in the future.
CR: Is this something you’re planning on doing again in the future?
CL: Over the past years, we have increasingly identified partnerships and collaborations to serve the PSU queer and trans community. This summer will provide another opportunity for Campus Rec and QRC staff to imagine new initiatives that will continue to welcome queer and trans people into the recreation center.