SRU celebrates October as Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation month


pride flags waving

Sept. 23, 2016

gender identity sexual orientation logo

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 that allowed same-sex couples across the nation to legally marry set off a celebration throughout the LGBTQI community the likes of which had never been seen.

The fight for equality had taken a giant step forward.

That pride will shine brightly during the month of October as Slippery Rock University and the President's Commission on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation come together to pay homage to the LGBTQI - lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex - community with a number of special events.

This year mark's the 10th anniversary of GISO at the University and the occasion will be marked in a festive and informative fashion. From a spirited drag show to a sobering candlelight vigil, each event will promote and encourage "a more inclusive and supportive campus climate that is free of discrimination, intolerance and bigotry," said Chris Luffy, GISO's social media guru and digital media productions major from Pittsburgh.

RockOUT, the student LQBTQI and ally organization at SRU, will host opportunities for students, faculty and staff to cultivate a judgment-free community through fun and educational activities the second week of October.

RockOUT's Coming Out Day Celebration Oct. 11 allows students to either share their coming out stories or perhaps walk through the traditional red door for the first time, thereby observing and honoring significant milestones for LGBTQI community members and their allies. A panel discussion, "Straight Talk," is also scheduled for Oct. 11.

"This year our topic of choice will be 'When I Knew', and we will be sharing those stories alongside our coming out memories, some serious and others quite funny," said Luffy.

chris luffy


"It allows you to see other's experiences because within any LBTQI community, everyone has such a different story to offer. For me personally, that opportunity to share and to listen is truly eye opening."

RockOUT's annual Drag Show follows Oct. 12 is an "infectious favorite" according to Luffy that drew nearly 800 attendees last year. "We transform the ballroom into a stage and the whole event is larger than life. It definitely brings the fun into our commission."

The organization will also host a candlelight vigil Oct. 13 at the SGA Pavilion on the Quad. The event will pay tribute to the victims of the June 2016 mass shooting in Orlando.

Other events such as Spirit Day Oct. 20, where students are encouraged to wear purple and stand up against the bullying of LGBTQI individuals, will allow students of all orientations to become catalysts of change.

RockOUT President Morgan Scott noted that while October is GISO's event month of choice - in order to coincide with the national LGBT History Month - students of all orientations and walks of life are invited to join the club throughout the year to find a safe haven of confidentiality and companionship within its membership.

"RockOUT is about being a family for students to come to when they might not have a family to go home to at night," said Scott, a junior psychology major from Greenville.

The organization, which has an office within the Pride Center at the Smith Student Center, offers relaxation and refuge to anyone, along with education and assistance for LGBTQI allies.

"The Pride Center is a wonderful resource for anything that you need from support to books and movies. It is a great place for someone who is just searching for a home," said Deborah Schell, assistant director of the Smith Student Center and GISO co-chair.

Schell said that GISO was instrumental in opening her eyes and broadening her worldview and she hopes that the commission will offer the same results to others across campus.

"Pride and diversity are not meant to be observed simply one day or even one month of the year," she said. "They ought to be central focuses year-long and in everything we do. There is still a lot of work to be done in achieving our goals of acceptance and education."

Other sponsored events for the month include:

  • Ally Week, "I'll Go With You", Student Center Lobby, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Sept. 27
  • Ally 101 Workshop, Room 319, Smith Student Center, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Sept. 29
  • National Coming Out Day Celebration, "When I Knew," Ballroom A, Smith Student Center, 12:30 p.m., Oct. 11
  • RockOUT Straight Talk, TBD, Oct. 11, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
  • RockOUT Drag Show, Smith Student Center Ballroom, 8 p.m., Oct. 12
  • RockOUT Candlelight Vigil, SGA Pavilion, 5 p.m., Oct. 13
  • Rocky Horror Picture Show, Smith Student Center Ballroom, 8 p.m., Oct. 20
  • Spirit Day, Smith Student Center lobby, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Oct. 20
  • Intersex Awareness Day, Room 321, Smith Student Center, 3 p.m., Oct. 26

MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 |