By Kristina Huderski
Most LGBT students and allies feel they have the right to express themselves freely and without judgment, and the Rainbow Alliance advocates for this cause. President of the Rainbow Alliance, Christina DiSilvestro, a senior public relations major, along with junior broadcasting major and vice president Alexandra Tiso, reinstated the Rainbow Alliance in Sept. 2016. DiSilvestro explained the club’s purpose, “The Rainbow Alliance is a safe-place for those who are inside of the LGBTQ community and its allies. We welcome anyone who is willing to step outside of the normal boundary and get down to business to help support the LGBTQ community with fun events and fundraisers!”
The club was started years ago, but stopped running because of decline in members. In fall 2015, other students tried to revive the club, but did not have enough members or a good advertising team. “I didn’t know anything about it; we had no clue it was an already a founded club,” Tiso said.
In Sept. 2016, DiSilvestro and Tiso began planning and revamping in order to bring the Rainbow Alliance back. During the fall semester, they did the paperwork, rewrote the club’s constitution, and got approval from the head of campus life, Matt Blanar, for the club to be active again. With the help of the head of student clubs, Tara Ernst, who met with DiSilvestro and Tiso every Monday and helped fill out the five-star papers that are required for all clubs, the Rainbow Alliance was ready to restart. DiSilvestro and Tiso began tabling events in Hillwood Commons to gain members. “We got over 50 signatures in two months,” Tiso said of their efforts during the fall semester. Over winter break, Tiso and DiSilvestro worked together to prepare for their first Rainbow Alliance meeting.
On Jan. 25, 2017, the Rainbow Alliance held its first meeting, with 22 people in attendance. They now hold meetings every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., with more and more members in attendance. During the meetings, the members discuss events, fundraisers, and end with an open discussion. At this time, a question that a member wrote is picked out of a jar, and the members discuss and give their own input.
The Rainbow Alliance held a bake sale in Hillwood on Feb. 21 and raised $60 to help with event costs for the Take Back the Night event that will be held on March 30 in the Pratt Recreation Center; they will also take part in that event. There are many events coming up for the Rainbow Alliance such as another bake sale and their Pride week, an event-filled week to honor the LGBT community.
The bake sale will take place on March 7 in Hillwood at 12:30 p.m. to raise money for club t-shirts and Pride week. On March 27, a transgender speaker will address students in the Gold Coast Cinema and will play the trailer for the documentary “Real Boy,” which will be played the following day at the Tilles Center. The club’s Pride week begins April 17 and ends on the 20. Each day, an event will be directed towards LGBT activism. Their biggest events are the candlelight vigil and the Pride week finale. On April 17, the club will hold a candlelight vigil to honor those who passed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. On April 20, the Rainbow Alliance is taking over Hillwood; you can get your makeup done by an artist, drink a milkshake, take lots of photos, and dance to music sponsored by WCWP, the campus radio station.
With the help of the Rainbow Alliance, LGBT students and allies across campus have found a place to express their beliefs and find friends that understand them. Julio Feliciano Jr., a senior public relations major, who also handles the club’s PR, said, “This club has honestly touched me in a way I could have never expected. It is just so amazing to finally have a club that is for individuals that identity under the LGBTQ umbrella. And I am very excited on what the club will be doing for the rest of the semester and for future years to come.”
To join the Rainbow Alliance, email Alexandra.firstname.lastname@example.org or attend the club’s meeting Wednesday during common hour in Hillwood room 109.