UBC Okanagan has never celebrated Pride quite like this. With pride progress flag banners being raised across campus, UBCO continues working toward making the campus an even more welcoming space.
The banners are to be unfurled this week as part of the Queer Orientation activities on campus. The flags represent the diversity of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community as well as UBCO’s commitment to creating an inclusive campus community where 2SLGBTQIA+ people are seen, treated equitably and respected.
“Aligning with Queer History Month in October, banners have been placed across campus to raise awareness, celebrate and honour the 2SLGBTQIA+ community while our campus is active with students, faculty and staff,” says Dale Mullings, Associate Vice-President, Students at UBCO. “These banners are just one of the ways that we are striving to make all members of our community feel like they belong at UBC Okanagan.”
These pole banners featuring the most recent pride progress flag are to go up as part of Queer Orientation activities on campus that run until mid-October. They feature the familiar rainbow pattern and include chevrons of black and brown (standing for people of colour), as well as pink, blue and white (to stand for the transgender community). Finally, a purple ring rests in a gold triangle as a call to the intersex community.
Morgan King, a campus leader and Master of Science student in sustainability, says visible demonstrations of the work being done on campus are not lost on students.
“When I started my undergraduate degree many years ago, I didn’t know I was queer,” says King, a member of the Graduate Student Committee with the Students’ Union Okanagan of UBC (SUO). “As a bisexual woman and seeing the support of Pride on campus—such as the rainbow staircase outside the UNC—made me feel seen. While there is a long way to go, I know it will bring a smile to my face every time I will see the Pride banners.”
The banners raise the profile of existing on-campus inclusive spaces and initiatives, including the SUO Pride Resource Centre, as well as the Equity & Inclusion Office’s Positive Space Committee and Positive Space Foundations course. Further, the UBC Inclusion Action Plan and the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force Report supply frameworks for policy change and intersectional recommendations aimed at articulating and addressing inequities.
“While UBCO has supported its queer students on paper, there is power in visible symbols of acceptance, encouragement and support,” says Kirthana Ganesh, a doctoral student in clinical psychology and a graduate students’ representative on the SUO. “It gives me the confidence to be assertive and vocal about student rights and know that the system will be willing to listen. It doesn’t hurt that the colours are beautiful, too.”
American artist Gilbert Baker first designed the rainbow flag for the 1978 Pride parade in San Francisco. Pride progress banners are to fly over UBCO until mid-November.
The Equity & Inclusion Office has developed a resource to learn more about other 2SLGBTQIA+ flags. To learn more, visit: equity.ok.ubc.ca/pride-flags