What a Difference a Gay Makes: West Valley’s LGBTQ History/Pop Culture Night
By Avi Vieira
One of the more popular theme nights at West Valley one•n•ten gives the youth the opportunity to test their knowledge and expand their awareness of the LGBTQ community. January 28th brought the return of LGBT History/Pop Culture Night where our resident Professor Avi hosted a trivia competition with questions spanning decades of LGBTQ related movies, television, music, symbols, terminology, and history with volunteers serving as judges awarding points for correct answers, and occasionally providing hints to stumped participants.
With the promise of “fabulous prizes” to tempt them, our youth “buzzed in” and answered individual questions ranging from events and people in Ancient Rome through 2013 drawing on gay icons such as Dolly Parton, Alan Turning, Bayard Rustin, Meryl Streep, Anita Bryant and her “Save the Children” campaign, as well as events impacting LGBTQs such as Nazi persecution, The Stonewall Riots, the AIDS Epidemic, and the Foo Fighters’ counter protest performance against Westboro Baptist Church. LGBTQ-related terminology such as defining “pocket gays,” and being able to identify the flags of the Transgender, Asexual, Genderqueer, Pansexual, and Intersex communities were some additional questions.
The evening was lively and competitive as youth tried to answer quickly, often times scrambling to buzz in to answer, then stump others by picking older decades and more obscure categories. In the end, when scores were tabulated to determine the final prizes, which included gift cards and special prizes of books on Gay history and pop culture icons as encouragement for further research for next time. All youth were presented their very own “Official Gay Card” for their demonstration of LGBTQ knowledge, which both reminds cardholders to love, honor, and respect each other, and comes with a “3 Strikes and You Lose” clause for offenses against fellow LGBTQs.
The evening served as both a learning opportunity from the trivia portion, but also allowed the youth to feel validated, empowered, and connected to the greater LGBTQ community. While the concept of a “Gay Card” brings a chuckle and a smile to older members of the community, it was simply magical to watch the pride our youth had as they left for the night, with those cards in hand and sense of authorization and endorsement from “senior LGBTQs.”