Rainbow Week rocks the spectrum

Maggie Tiede, Senior Reporter

Spectrum is Hamline’s LGBTQIA organization—that’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allied—and with so many identities under its umbrella, finding events to unite a community and campus may seem like a struggle.

That’s where Rainbow Week comes in—the spring semester equivalent to Coming Out Week events held in the fall. This year, Rainbow Week has featured a keynote from nationally recognized transgender activist S. Bear Bergman, an open mic night featuring queer performance artist Lucy Valentine, a drag etiquette workshop (with bonus ice cream) and a Rainbow Dinner honoring students, faculty and staff.

The amateur drag show, perhaps the best known of Spectrum’s events, took place on Friday, April 17.

But executive board member Chandler Daily (‘16) wanted people to know that Spectrum is much more than drag. They were especially excited about the keynote and companion event on transgender issues.

“S. Bear Bergman…speaks to audience members who are part of the community and those who might be looking to be better allies with the same engaging and funny manner that leaves everyone included,” Daily said.

The first talk by Bergman, which took place on the afternoon of Monday, April 13, discussed his latest project, Flamingo Rampant.

“Flamingo Rampant [is Bergman’s] children’s book company, which is filling the totally unfilled niche market for children’s books that represent true diversity in a way that’s happy and joyful,” Daily said.

The second talk, Daily said, “was a Trans 101 style lecture that broke down common questions cisgender people have and illustrated why they’re problematic while giving trans people good frameworks for how to have those conversations.”

The open mic night took place on Tuesday, April 14 and featured spoken word poet and performance artist Lucy Valentine, who self-identifies as agender and androfemme as well as queer.

Hattie Hsu (‘18), Spectrum’s first-year representative and newly elected board member for 2015-16, said that “the open mic was an opportunity for people in the Spectrum community to present what they’ve created…we started off with people making themselves very vulnerable and presented things from their heart and from a very personal level, and it was a really interesting and open, beautiful space where people felt comfortable.”

Hsu also said that Lucy Valentine was “a very wonderful performer and shared some very personal pieces and some beautiful poetry and beautiful music…I was really glad that they came to Hamline to do this event for us.”

Rainbow Week didn’t end there, continuing with a drag etiquette workshop open to performers in the drag show and friends. The presentation discussed the ethics and history of drag, including criticisms that it appropriates transfeminine and African American culture. Attendees were able to eat ice cream and make a collage of their desired drag character.

The Rainbow Dinner is one of the largest events of Rainbow Week, held in Klas Ballroom and featuring the introduction of new Spectrum board members, winners of the staff, faculty and student Rainbow Award winners and the distribution of tassels to graduating seniors who have had a close association with Spectrum.

This year, the seniors saying goodbye to Spectrum’s executive board are Taty Benson and Brianna Brown. After their farewell, the new Spectrum executive board was introduced as Steven Beardsley (‘16), Chandler Daily (‘16), Hattie Hsu (‘18), Alyssa Volkmann (‘17) and Steph Theisen (‘17).

Another event was co-sponsored between Spectrum and the Career Development Center, a lunch with LGBTQIA Hamline alumni discussing their experiences in the workplace.

As Spectrum’s week in the spotlight has drawn to a close, this year’s lineup of events has been busy and well-attended. According to members, fall semester’s Coming Out Week will bring new students, a new board and new events.

“I am very excited to be a part of Spectrum’s new exec board…I feel like there’s a lot of potential for Spectrum for the next year and for subsequent years,” said Hsu.