RICHLAND, Wash. - Washington State University Tri-Cities is continuing its second year of raising the LGBTQ pride flag over campus.
In honor of LGBTQ History Month and National Coming Out Day on Wednesday, students and faculty hosted a flag ceremony Monday morning.
Alexander Matlok, a senior and elected student senator, did the honors of hoisting the rainbow flag up the pole.
“As LGBT students, when we walk up every day being able to see our flag up there. It shows that we are one nation, one coug,” Matlok explained. “In this current political climate, you can feel a need to want to hide a little bit, but I think having a voice is very important.”
The flag ceremony kicked off a week of events planned by faculty and student government (ASWSUTC), including an LGBTQ panel on National Coming Out Day.
“We just hope to expose students to more things, so that they begin to ask questions for themselves,” ASWSUTC director of diversity affairs Adriana McKinney said. “We like critical thinking.”
Part of the conversation is intended to highlight progress made for LGBTQ equal rights, while also showing how far there is still to go.
“Straight identities are validated every day,” the ASWSUTC director of communications Ray Lechelt said. “We see them on TV, they are in the media. Nobody is questioning why they are straight. It's not exactly equal footing.”
However, Lechelt said WSU raising the flag is significant.
“Showing how our community is changing and is a lot more accepting,” Lechelt said.
Matlok also added hope that the flag serves to inspire others to live their truth.
“This is the time for you to be your authentic self,” Matlok said. “If you feel like you're in a safe place, be proud of who you are. And know that there are people at WSU Tri-Cities who support you.”
Events at WSU Tri-Cities this week are listed below: