LGBT Center hosts Wear the Rainbow clothing swap

Erin Grogan

Grand Valley State University students and faculty have been collecting clothes to donate to the LGBT Resource Center, and on Monday and Tuesday, the center hosted “Wear the Rainbow: A Trans* and Gender Queer Clothing Swap.”

During Wear the Rainbow, members of the GVSU LGBT community learned techniques to safely express their gender in different ways.

“I hope this gives people the access to clothes and the access to skills for safe self-expression,” said Emily West, grant coordinator at the LGBT Resource Center.

GVSU students led workshops during Wear the Rainbow to help others learn how to properly walk in high heels, wear makeup and bind/pack genitalia. Participants also got the chance to try on and keep the clothes and accessories that were donated.

Zerka, a sophomore at GVSU, originally helped come up with the idea for the Wear the Rainbow event. She said she saw there were other clothing swaps in the Grand Rapids area and felt that GVSU students could benefit from the event, especially those who may not have the financial, physical or emotional safety to freely express their gender.

“It’s important that people have the opportunity to talk to someone about their gender identity in a face-to-face setting,” Zerka said. “A lot of people look up how to pack or bind their body online, like I did, and that’s not always safe.”

Zerka said the students on campus also lack proper education about the LGBT community, and many issues LGBT students face on campus are often caused by this separation.

“A lot of people just don’t know,” Zerka said. “They’re very ignorant, but not in a bad way — in the sense that they just don’t know. They come here with ideas they’ve learned from back home and from their parents and just assume everybody’s the same.”

Students are encouraged to come to the LGBT Resource Center to educate themselves about their peers and become allies to the LGBT community. Throughout the rest of the school year, the center will be hosting several events for students, faculty and staff.

Upcoming events include a presentation by Laverne Cox, an actress in the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black,” on March 18; the Pride Awards on March 25; Lavender Graduation on April 16; and allies and advocates training sessions.

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