LGBTQ+ Center hosts fifth annual Flashes of Pride

Flashes of Pride

The fifth annual Flashes of Pride poster was released on Oct. 7 during LGBTQ+ History Month. 

At the LGBTQ+ Center, former and new participants who modeled in the photos came to the release party to show support for the new poster.

Students, faculty and staff at Kent State were featured on the poster to showcase who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. This has become a tradition for the LGBTQ+ Center to have this poster release. 

“I love the fact that it’s just something people recognize and know about,” said the Director of the LGBTQ+ Center, Ken Ditlevson. “People will send me an email and say ‘Hey, I didn’t make it this year but I want to be on next year.’ So it is not a surprise when people see it. It is kind of our tradition at Kent and I love that.” 

Senior applied conflict management major Jacob Dudley was one of the students who could not make the photo shoot last year and ended up being on the poster this year. 

“I originally intended to be on last year’s, but I completely forgot about the photoshoot day, so I wasn’t able to be on it. But I’m on it this year,” Dudley said. 

This poster is an important step in Dudley’s journey, even though he was not able to do it last year.

“When I first started coming to Kent… I was fresh out of the closet. Now, through working with the student organization PRIDE! Kent and working more closely with the center, I learned to gain a greater appreciation for my identity and a new role for advocating for my community,” he said. “So, being on the Flashes of Pride poster, for my senior year especially, feels like the end of a perfect arc of my development.”

Michael Duncan is a senior computer science major who came out to his family not too long ago. For him, being on this poster shows things are going well.

“I hope they can see me and feel they can perhaps do the same thing if they are not there yet, because not everyone is there yet,” Duncan said. “It took me a long time. I’m 26 now, so I did not really come out to the family until I was 25. A lot of people take longer than that, but it is better late than never.” 

Paige Olberding is a senior psychology major who is also a part of the poster. For her, being on this poster would have been scary for her freshman year; however, as a senior, she is more open about who she is and this Flashes of Pride poster was the perfect place to showcase that. 

“Back home was the stereotypical ‘I came from a conservative town’ but I really did and there was maybe two openly gay people, but they were shunned from everyone else,” Olberding said. “I was observant of that and I didn’t want that. Once I came here and saw the diversity the campus had, I became more okay and saw that people would accept this.” 

The Flashes of Pride posters will not only be posted around campus but off campus at local Kent businesses like Bricco and Insomnia.

“It is kind of a visual cue to people that they do not have to be in the closet,” Ditlevson said. “It’s okay to be who you are. If this one tiny little piece of paper makes a difference in making someone feel more comfortable in their own skin, then it has definitely served its purpose.”

Contact Katia Rodriguez at [email protected].