The Office of Inclusion: Multicultural & LGBTQIA Student Services (IMQ) hosted an event this week called Love Who You Love: Inclusive Valentines, which promoted craft themed activities and created an inclusive space during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.
According to the Office of Inclusion's website, it supports “cultural, gender and sexuality diversity through programming, events, and thoughtful community engagement in a safe and supportive environment.”
The culture of welcoming diversity in the events held between Feb. 10 and 13 aimed to foster a safe space for LGBTQ+ students surrounding a holiday that, according to many members of the LGBT+ community, is typically heteronormative in nature.
The LGBTQ+ community is often underrepresented in the media, especially around Valentine’s Day, according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The goal of Inclusive Valentines, according to program coordinators, is to combat this disproportionate trend. However, not every member of the LGBTQ+ community believes the Office of Inclusion's events are effective.
Sophomore Emily Workman identifies as gay. Although Workman said the events showcase support of an oppressed community, it also could have been hosted on a more important day for the LGBTQ+ network, rather than Valentine’s Day.
“I would rather see events on National Coming Out Day,” Workman said. “Events that are specifically hosted to be inclusive sometimes feel forced.”
Workman also touched on the importance of normalization when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance, and she addressed how the Office of Inclusion can be interpreted as ostracizing to the community.
“I think the key to becoming more normalized and accepting of the LGBT+ community is treating it like it’s not different from every other community,” Workman said.
Despite Workman's recommendations and critiques of the Office of Inclusion, others may feel that the events it hosts are an important part of gaining acceptance for underrepresented communities.
Destinee King, a coordinator for IMQ, said the goal of Inclusive Valentine's week was to honor and support the LGBTQ+ community, along with showing that all love is love. She also emphasized the importance of inclusive events and activities around Valentine’s Day.
“A lot of social media and mainstream stuff is not very inclusive to our LGBTQIA community, or inclusive to some of the community but not all of it, so we want to make sure that everyone in the community is welcome, especially around Valentine’s Day," King said.
Although there are varying perspectives regarding the importance and influence of IMQ, it is vital to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ students to express that love is love, especially around a romantic holiday.