October marked LGBTQ+ History Month at UCF with the theme of: “Breaking Down Barriers: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” The month of programming was a collaboration of the Multicultural Student Center and LGBTQ+ Services as well as campus leaders, advisors, and directors from other Student Development and Enrollment and UCF offices.The month began with the kick-off event, featuring Gina Duncan as the guest speaker. Duncan is the Transgender Inclusion director of Equality Florida and shared some of her own experiences and touched the hearts and minds of attendees of the event. Riley McEuen, graduate assistant for Social Justice and Advocacy, stated, “Of her many words of advice, one overall theme resonated with the audience of LGBTQ+ students and allies – ‘You cannot hide in the shadows; you must be proud of who you are because change only comes with self-acceptance.’”

October was a month filled with programming geared towards educating students about the LGBTQ+ community, including: informational panels, documentary screenings, information-exchange groups, craft pride events, and National Coming Out Day celebrations. Twenty-five students and ten UCF faculty and staff marched in the 10th annual “Coming Out With Pride” parade near Downtown Orlando. Many students also participated in the Zebra Run 5K earlier in the day. Zebra Coalition is a UCF community partner, supporting LGBTQ+ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 with numerous services in the Central Florida area.

Shane Bitney Crone closed out the LGBTQ+ History Month as the featured keynote speaker. Best known for his documentary Bridegroom, Crone shared his story with the world about his partner who he tragically lost and the legal implications that followed because they were unable to be legally married.  The documentary was viewed at UCF followed by a Q&A with Crone which provided students with the opportunity to become educated about the legal issues and partner benefits of the LGBTQ+ community.

“As the United States continues down a road of equality and acceptance for all people, it is important to recognize the importance of the advocacy, education and perspective of the nation’s LGBTQ+ voices” said McEuen.

UCF continues to serve its LGBTQ+ students beyond October through the numerous services and programming provided by the Multicultural Student Center and LGBTQ+ Services. For more information about LGBTQ+, visit: sja.sdes.ucf.edu.