Experiencing Show Me Pride

Schools from across the state of Missouri attend sixth-annual event at MU

Photo of Columns overlayed by rainbow gradient color.

Story by Madi Baughman
Art by Whitney Pierce

Before going to the Show Me Pride College Summit, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’d never gone before, so I didn’t know how it would go. I had a basic idea of what the event was like from planning and working with people who had gone before, but I still couldn’t put together a picture in my mind. The main thing I wasn’t prepared for was how much I would love it.

At the conference, we decided in the morning which topics we would like to see, and who would facilitate them. We also came up with rules and expectations, which felt so necessary to me. It made sure we were all on the same page, and that we were being as inclusive as possible. It gave each of us just a little bit more control over this one, special day in our lives, which can feel so rare to grasp, especially in a society where our input is often ignored.

Two of the earlier sessions I went to covered topics from diversity to inclusion to religion and more, and I really feel like I learned a lot, especially because people had such different experiences within the community. It was amazing to see the level of connections developed between people who had never met just hours before, even ones who had totally different experiences in life. It was really valuable to me, to be able to hear the voices of people who are so often talked over.

Then I walked into the Bi+ Closed Caucus, and I felt beyond safe. I felt comfortable, for the first time in a long time. Sure, working in MU’s LGBTQ Resource Center gives me the privilege of being around queer people all the time, but this was different, in a way, sitting with only people who shared my identity. It felt like a safe space, where we could freely discuss the problems inside and outside of our community, and bond over shared experiences. It made me light up from the inside out.

Instead of going to my last session, I headed back to the Center, where one of our own students was giving free haircuts to anyone in attendance. That small act of kindness, providing a service to people who might not otherwise have it, really cemented for me how truly compassionate our community can be. It made me proud of us — of who we are, and who we aspire to be. We look out for each other. We support each other. We work to be better. I feel at home here.

All in all, this conference is something so important that we rarely find in today’s society. I’ve never felt closer to dozens of literal strangers — there’s something there that bonds us together, something powerful, and tapping into that has changed my point of view. I am beyond excited for next year’s conference. All the hard work that everyone put it was undoubtedly worth it, and I hope that other people were able to have the same experience that I did.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Tapestry.