Past Programs and Events

The following programs and events took place at IWU in recent years. These programs feature LGBTQ+ speakers and discussions that talk about issues within the LGBTQ+ community in order to raise awareness, provide education, create inclusion, and model LGBTQ+ professional contributions.

*Pictures are linked to a Photobucket account. Click on each picture to view the whole album.*

Lavender Graduation: April 2, 2015

This year, IWU hosted the 2nd annual Lavender Graduation. During this event, we honor LGBTQAA+ graduates and those that help to facilitate a safe and welcoming learning environment during their time at Wesleyan. 2015 highlights included:

  • Associate Provost Frank Boyd was the keynote speaker and discussed the progress that LGBTQ+ people have seen at IWU and in society in recent years through his disciplinary lens of political science
  • Professor Meghan Burke was honored by senior sociology student Rachel Wimberly
  • President Wilson welcomed those assembled and posited the value of LGBTQ+ people in contributing to powerful learning environments marked by differences in identity and experience
  • Various honorees contributed to the celebration including offering reflections and poetry. Senior Liezl Jacobson's slam poetry is linked here for part one and here for part two
  • As Director of Alumni Relations, Adriane Powell welcomed honorees to the community of IWU alumni and to the Pride Alumni Community
  • Director of Diversity and Inclusion Brandon Common reinforced the role of LGBTQ+ student support as a core mission of Diversity and Inclusion and the IWU Strategic Plan 2020
Aaron Woodstein
Aaron Woodstein
Aaron shares a reflection.
Amelia Smith
Amelia Smith
Amelia speaks of her experience as a part of the "plus."
Brandon Common
Brandon Common
Director of Diversity and Inclusion Brandon Common shares closing thoughts.
Frank Boyd
Associate Provost Frank Boyd
Associate Provost Boyd reflects on the value of LGBTQ+s at IWU and in the greater social fabric.
Liezl Jacobson
Liezl Jacobson
Lieze perfomers an original piece of slam poetry.
Lav Grad Preparations

Preparations are complete.
The diploma table is prepared with materials for honorees.

Safe Zone Reception: March 05, 2015

This year, we held the second annual Safe Zone Reception. This reception served to honor members of our IWU community who have successfully completed the Safe Zone workshop requirements in order to obtain certification. The short program featured:

  • Introductions of over 30 Safe Zone participants whose participation qualified them for induction and recognition
  • Remarks offered by Karla Carney-Hall, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
  • Updates on LGBTQ+ progress offered by Matthew Damschroder, Former Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Life and IWU Pride Alliance Advisor
  • A welcome by Eileen Galvez, Assistant Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Thoughts and reflections from Paige Bushman, the current President of the IWU Pride Alliance  

Drag Ball: Feb 6, 2015

Each year, Pride hosts a drag show in Hansen Student Center. Students are welcome to participate and some of the most well-known drag queens/kings of Blo-No perform as well. It is tradition to dress in drag, but of course there is no required attire. The funds raised (over $300) were donated to a charity, Prairie Pride Coalition, to support progressive efforts in the community. 

 Kia sharealike

Athens Boy Choir: Feb 5, 2015

"Harvey Katz manages to give voice to a community that needs to be heard; he is an artist who knows the power of word and uses it wisely. His performance poetry is rapid-fire word-play that shines light on lives that rarely get airtime. His heart-on-the-sleeve linguistic exploration is matched by his enthusiastic, potent performances. Through the course of one poem, he manages to bring the audience to the verge of tears and turn them on their heads with laughter. He is compassionate, complicated and a seasoned performer."

Trans* Day of Remembrance: Nov 20, 2014

"On this day we talked about the importance of Trans* inclusion on campus and across the country.Office of Diversity and Inclusion director Brandon Commons and Chaplain Elyse Nelson Winger gave remarks. Then the names of trans victims of abuse and suicide were read off and a candle lit in their honor." Source: IWU Pride Facebook

Trans* Day of Remembrance

Christina Kahrl: Becoming a woman in a man's world - Nov 6, 2014 

Christina Karhl shared with us the hardships and triumphs of being a transgender female in her family, career, and the American culture. She unraveled her original confusion and attempts to mask her actual identity to fit into the norms of a cisgendered society.

Jen Kober - October 24, 2014

In collaboration with the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Programs, The IWU PRIDE Alliance brought Jen Kober to campus this fall, for her second appearance at IWU. Jen Kober is a comedian who has appeared on Fox and FX networks and in movies like Paranoia and the Grudge Match. 

Jen Kober

Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love - October 4, 2014 

Coming Out Muslim

"Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love" was an enlightening performance, performed by Wazina Zondon, that exhibits the life of a queer Muslim who faces many forms of discrimination, while acknowledging the beauty of her multifaceted identity. It's a storytelling performance that explored all avenues of her intersectionality from romance to faith. 


Dr. Stuart Chen-Hayes- September 26, 2014

The IWU PRIDE Alliance hosted an event with speaker Dr. Stuart Chen-Hayes. Dr. Stuart Chen-Hayes is a multifaceted Associate Professor of Lehman College. During his talk on campus he spoke about his multiple identities and the intersectionality of them all including being a part of a multicultural, intersectional family unit.

Drag Ball - April 18

The IWU Pride Alliance hosted its 11th Annual Charity Drag Ball. The proceeds from this year's show went to local high school GSAs (Gay Straight Alliance). 

The event was hosted by Ceduxion Carrington and featured acts from Kia Sharealike, Sienna Mann, Victoria Sharealike, Frankie Sharealike, Tyswagg Burton, and student performers from IWU and ISU. 


Pride Mentoring Mixer - April 17

The PRIDE ERG (Employee Resource Group) at State Farm and members from IWU Pride joined together to learn about how to get involved with PRIDE at State Farm during the upcoming year. 

IWU students--Emily Haas and Zhiyuan Meng--joined their State Farm mentors--Laurie Hayes and Dave Shields during this event.

Remarks from the following people were provided at the event:

  • Maureen Roach, Assistant Director, ISU Career Center
  • Matthew Damschroder, Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Life at IWU 
  • Roberta Smith, Assistant Vice President -- Systems Department, State Farm
Pride ERG State Farm

Lavender Graduation - April 3

This year marks IWU's first ever Lavender Graduation celebration! We recognized 15 graduates who have shown commitment and dedication to the LGBTQ+ community on campus.

We had students perform two musical selections, provide readings, and reflections from their time here at Wesleyan. We also recognized two faculty allies--Jennifer Crider and Joanne Diaz--for their support. In addition to the wonderful contributions from students, Provost Jonathan Green also provided remarks!

Pride Summit - March 29

On March 29, 2014, Illinois Wesleyan University hosted its first Pride Summit. The theme of this year's event was titled Identity: Who I am on the Inside and Outside. 

The day started out with breakfast followed by an activity called What I Wouldn't Sell, Trade, or Give Away. Participants brought an item following this criteria and presented it to the group.

The next activity was called My Style, Your Style, Our Style. This activity helped us all connect as we realized our similarities and differences.

We took a break for lunch then participated in the Diversity Shuffle. The Diversity Shuffle allowed us to reexamine where we have privilege and what this means. A small group discussion was held following this event.

Finally, a panel of alumni spoke about being LGBT+ and out in the workplace.

Speaker: Robyn Ochs - March 25

Robyn Ochs presented her workshop titled Loosening the Gender Girdle: How Gender Affects You on Tuesday, March 25th in the Hansen Student Center. Robyn Ochs took participants through a series of activities, all aimed at gender and how it affects us in our everyday lives.

Performer: Diana Chittester - February 14

Diana Chittester is a progressive, indie, and folk musician who identifies within the LGBTQ+ community. She performs solo with only an acoustic guitar and her vocals. Her unique way of playing guitar allows her music to have the effect of multiple guitarists and drums playing at once. 

IWU's Pride Alliance hosted Diana as an alternative Valentine's day event.

Safe Zone Members Reception - February 13

Safe Zone members gathered to recognize the achievements made in the LGBT+ community on campus. Newly  certified members were presented with a certificate of induction for their work in help supporting the LGBT+ community and learning how to be a good ally. The new Safe Zone logo was also revealed at this event.

President Wilson spoke on LGBT+ inclusion at IWU and the progress made so far this year. 

Speaker: Charlene Carruthers '07 - February 6

Charlene Carruthers '07 is a queer, black activist and an IWU graduate, who majored in international studies and history. As a student, she co-chaired the Intercultural Leadership Alliance, established in 2005 to promote cultural diversity. She was also active in the Black Student Union, Student Senate’s Executive Board and several other organizations.

Today Charlene is a special initiatives manager at the Women’s Media Center in New York City. In 2011, she was recognized by Campus Progress as one of America’s 10 Most Daring Young Black Activists.

At this event, she addressed what it means to help assemble and lead a growing movement of young Black leaders in America today and came out as a queer woman of color.

Dugout: Gender Display - January 31-February 13

A display was placed in the hallway in the Dugout about gender expression and identity around the world.

The poster reads: "There are many vantage points when you look at the earth, much like the different views on gender. If you only look at something from one point of view, you’ll miss so much! There are over 30 genders in various cultures around the world, both historically and in modern times. This map is an upside down Van der Grinten projection map which provides us with a view of the earth as it really is, instead of simply trying to make everything look equal. Our views of this earth should not be limited. Likewise, gender should not be limited to simply men and women. Some cultures persecute people who do not fit the gender binary and others admire them. A few of these cultures are listed with more information and answers to the questions on the other side of the paper."

Ames Library: LGBT Display - January

A display was placed in Ames Library relating to the LGBT+ community and the Olympics in Russia.

LGBT Campus Climate Survey: Non-Org - January 20

A comprehensive climate survey was conducted at IWU in spring 2013 around LGBTQ+ identity. This session presented the survey results and progress made to date in creating a more inclusive campus for LGBTQ+ people and allies. The PowerPoint presentation presented at the event is located here: (.pdf)



Trans* Day of Remembrance - November 20 Trans* Day of Remembrance poster

Trans* Day of Remembrance is a day to commemorate those with a trans* identity who have been victims of hate crimes. IWU Pride Alliance hosted a candlelight vigil for those with a trans* identity who lost their life because of their identity/expression.

Karla Carney-Hall, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, spoke at the Trans* Day of Remembrance vigil, offering the following remarks:

"On this Trans* Day of Remembrance, I am struck by several things:

First, remembering comes from a place of care – we remember people we love and care about greatly.  We care about others and their journey.  We care about their pain.  Today, we honor Trans* people who have been lost to violence and hatred.

Second, while “remembering” is shared with other national holidays, on this day, we raise up humanity and equality, while raising awareness about discrimination and hate.  We hope for change, compassion, and an end to injustice.

Finally, I am also hopeful about a future “remembering.”  I hope for a day when we can all say, “I remember when there used to be a need to raise awareness.”  I hope for a day when there is no anti-transgender violence.  A day when we can celebrate the end of violence.  I hope for a day that we can celebrate the living, their courage and sense of self."

Speaker: Searah Deysach - November 14

Searah Deysach is the founder and owner of Early to Bed, a sex toy shop in Chicago, IL. Searah speaks to colleges' queer and feminist organizations and classes, providing education on safe sex practices. Other organizations she has worked with include the Chicago Women's Health Center, Lesbian Community Care Project, and the Broadway Youth Center, amongst others.

Speaker: Dr. Maura Cullen - November 7 Maura Cullen

Dr. Maura Cullen is the founder of the Diversity Student Summit and author of 35 Things Well-Intended People Say: Surprising Things We Say That Widen The Diversity Gap.

She lent her LGBTQ experience and voice to an engaging discussion about microaggressions--interactions and miscommunications between people of different races, cultures, genders, etc. that can be hurtful, harmful and destructive.



Dispelling Myths - October 23

Dispelling Myths poster

Can an LGBTQ+ person be religious? What about an LGBTQ+ couple raising children? Dispelling Myths was presented by Illinois State University faculty member, Christopher Horvath and IWU students, Christopher Richardson and Aaron Woodstein.

Myths such as those relating to promiscuity, jealousy over emotional affairs vs. sexual affairs, the standard view and   stereotypes about different LGBTQ+ groups, and the facts about homosexual and heterosexual couples raising children were some of the main topics.

March on Springfield - October 22 March on Springfield

Faculty/staff and students attended the March on Springfield in the fight for marriage equality. This was done in order to promote the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act", which was approved by the Illinois Senate with Governor Pat Quinn's support.





Homecoming LGBT Brunch - October 13

IWU alumni, Chad Maxwell, spoke at the Homecoming LGBT Brunch during Homecoming week at IWU. Discussions were held following this.

LGBT Homecoming Brunch
(From left to right) Rachel Paturi '13, Todd Zoellick '00, Brian Dailey, Chad Maxwell '02, Athena Cocallas, Chris Richardson, Bobby Castillo, Aaron Woodstein.

IWU-LGBTQ Awareness Week - October 6-12

Tuesday - NO H8 Photoshoot

NO H8 is a charitable organization designed to promote equality through visual protest.

Wednesday - LGBTQ+ Discussion Panel

A discussion was held with IWU Alumni about LGBTQ+ related events and questions about the community.

Thursday - Pride Meeting

IWU Pride Alliance met and had a discussion with IWU Alumni. Pride also discussed campus climate relating to the LGBTQ+ community.

Friday - National Coming Out Day Party

A party was held to tell coming out stories and discuss the issues that people face during the  coming out process, aswell as how you can be a good ally for those who are in the process.

Poster for 2013 IWU LGBTQ Awareness Week

Out for Work Conference - September 27-29

This conference took place at University of Illinois at Chicago, featuring workshops, breakout sessions, and keynotes by Steve Walker, Mona Noriega, and Selisse Berry. This conference also featured 31 companies that promoted their career and internship programs.