Southeast Missouri State University student publication

10th annual LGBTQ+ ally picnic hosted to celebrate awareness at SEMO

Wednesday, August 23, 2023
Left) Sophomore microbiology major Aryn Kalota and SEMO student Morgan Elliff laugh and cherish their time together at the LGBTQ + ally Picnic on Aug. 23 at Kent Library.

The 10th annual LGBTQ+ Ally Picnic helped the SEMO campus connect with the LGBTQ+ community through food and merchandise at Kent Library on Aug. 23. The event was organized by PFLAG and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center.

The picnic returned to campus, bringing support and awareness to the LGBTQ+ ally community. PFLAG support group coordinator Lisa Dale said the goal of the picnic is to get together with different organizations to bring members of the community together.

“We’ve been doing this [picnic] for about four or five years now,” Dale said. “Our goal is to coordinate with other LGBTQ+ resources and the community at the university to attract LGBTQ+ ally members of the community because LGBTQ+ is not always a welcomed community.”

During the event, tables were laden with food and beverages, alongside others distributing merchandise. One table was led by Arts Council of Southeast Missouri gallery manager Lauren Bishop.

“I’m just getting the word out, meeting new people and hopefully finding people that like to find a home within the arts here,” Bishop said. “And to find someplace to make new friends.”

With the tables provided, students and faculty were able to enjoy the provided food and sit down to talk among friends and co-workers. University president Carlos Vargas attended the event to enjoy the festivities and show his support for the LGBTQ+ ally community.

“The fact that students feel welcome by breaking bread with others in just having an opportunity to interact with different individuals,” Vargas said. “I think that’s a very nice thing.”

Some students have taken part in this event for many years in a row because they enjoy the positivity shared. Sophomore microbiology major Aryn Kalota returns to the picnic every year because they personally relate to LGBTQ+.

“Personally, I am a bisexual, non-binary person and I kind of grew up in a family that was really supportive of it,” Kalota said. “I think that it is really important to raise kids to be comfortable in their own skin and to be who they are.”