2SLGBTQIA+ Pride spans campus and calendar

Dancing student at the second chance prom.
Dancing student at the second chance prom.

2SLGBTQIA+ Pride spans campus and calendar

Dancing student at the second chance prom.
Dancing student at the second chance prom.

Throughout the year, Ringling College of Art and Design celebrates its 2SLGBTQIA+ community with programs and initiatives—from the History of Pride in October to the Second Chance Prom in April. As the campus sits silent and empty of all its students during the nationally-recognized Pride Month in June, here is a look back at some of the highlights from the last school year, and a glimpse at what’s to come in the 2024-25 academic year.

Ringling College dedicates the month of October to pride activities, so students are on campus to participate. October was established as LGBTQ+ History Month to commemorate the history of LGBTQ+ people and their rights, especially in academia, and create an opportunity to celebrate Pride during the academic year. The month also coincides with National Coming Out Day on October 11. In 2023, Ringling College’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion programmed a series of events and educational opportunities, in addition to the year-round educational opportunities of their Lunch and Learn series.   

The goal of these programs is to offer safe and brave spaces for queer and trans communities—communities that are too often the targets of violence and oppression. In higher ed, these students are sometimes met with concerning levels of discrimination, harassment, lack of visibility, and limited access to support services. Ringling students working with the CDI and members of the Student Government Association, with help from the campus’ Peterson Counseling Center and Community Engaged Learning department, have organized many events and programs to create opportunities for 2SLGBTQIA+ visibility, connection, and support—where students can find their people and find themselves.

Campus initiatives create a climate of care and visibility

On National Coming Out Day, the College hosted Planned Parenthood at the Peterson Counseling Center, in a relaxed and fun event where students could ask questions about sexual health and gender-affirming care while playing with puppies and making buttons. 

CDI also threw a Queer Dialogue event in Scott Plaza, inviting students to share their stories while making s’mores around a campfire. Later that month, they hosted a lunchtime talk on gender and sexuality led by Ringling faculty Dr. Iva Petkova, coordinator and educator for the Gender and Sexuality minor

To end the 2023-324 academic year, students cut loose at the Second Chance Prom, a redo and reimagining of the culminating event of high school. In the week leading up to the prom, CDI and Student Life transformed the College’s Queer Closet into a Prom Boutique, full of donated classic and alternative prom clothing and accessories, available to all students. Queer Closet is open throughout the school year and stocked with donated clothing as a free resource to match students’ gender identities and ultimately create an affirming experience for all genders and bodies. The under-the-sea-themed prom was sponsored by Project Pride and featured DJ Branna Lee, who started out as a drag DJ. CDI also hosted a Pride Block Party on campus in April.

Student Outreach Coordinator at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion Zeta Bengoechea described the evening, “All students felt welcomed and had a memorable evening. The decorations, music, and overall atmosphere were perfectly orchestrated to fit this year’s theme, Under the Sea. A large screen played marine life videos, there were mocktails with sea-inspired decorations, and jellyfish hanging from the ceiling. There was also a photo booth with props, and many students wore outfits from the Queer Closet Prom Boutique, which was fantastic. It was wonderful to see everyone having such a great time!” 

Next year, the CDI is coordinating with local Drag Queens for an event on October 24 in the Diane Roskamp Exhibition Hall. Plans are also underway for an Out and Proud Showcase on October 9, from 3:30-5 pm on the first floor of the Alfred R. Goldstein Library, during Out at Ringling Week. The showcase aims to provide a platform for 2SLGBTQIA+ students to exhibit art that celebrates their sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Collaborating with visiting artist

Belgian artist Lieven De Boeck collaborated with Ringling students over the fall semester, creating costumes for a queer parade, What’s Going on?, celebrating queer identity and visibility. The group performed the parade at Sarasota Art Museum, before traveling to Miami to perform at Untitled Art Fair during Art Basel week.

 2SLGBTQIA+ history highlighted in Liberal Arts courses

Ringling College’s Liberal Arts Program offers several courses on LGBTQ+ history and culture each year. In Fall 2022, they offered LGBTQ+ Identities in Film & Literature: Queer Comics, which explored the cultural significance of queer comics as a form of activism from the late 1950s to the present day. Last fall they offered LGBTQ+ Activism, exploring moments of personal and group activism, advocacy, and change-making, with special attention to how legal, medical, popular culture, and other discourses supported or stymied progress, and how race, socioeconomic class, age, religion, and other axes of identity inflect LGBTQ+ identities and activism. Also this fall, Liberal Arts will offer the special topics course Mighty Real: The Histories and Controversies of Drag and an art history seminar, the History of Queer Animation. 

Ringling College is a diverse community comprised of beliefs and backgrounds from every corner of the world, with students hailing from nearly 60 countries and almost every U.S. state. The institution celebrates academic freedoms and personal identities and expressions. And you are welcome here.

Second Chance Prom memories

Photos: Cecilia Marty ’26, Photography and Imaging

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