• By Alyson Heisler

Minot State displays pride flag

On Sept. 22, the Minot State University Campus Pride Club raised the LGBTQ+ flag for the first time in Minot State’s history outside the Student Center.

Guest speakers at the event included Steven Fehr-Dallolio, MSU Campus Pride Club president; Zoya Robbins, Pride Club member and ally; Shannon Krueger, Magic

City Equality executive board member; Kevin Harmon, vice president for student affairs; Minot State President Dr. Steven Shirley; Mark Singer, associate professor of history; and City of Minot councilwoman Carrie Evans.

“This is a moment that LGBT students, who are either in or out of the closet, and our allies feel represented by this flag without repercussions,” Fehr-Dallolio said.

“With students, faculty, and staff at MSU who are members of the LGBTQ community, along with those who are supporting allies for that community, it is significant that we as a campus recognize the inclusion of all members of our MSU campus family,” Shirley stated.

The on-campus flag raising occurred after a rainbow flag was raised at the Minot City Hall on Sept. 2. The pride flag at City Hall was met with much public disapproval. The following week’s city council meeting allowed citizens to give comments about the mayor’s decision to fly the flag.

The city’s choice to fly the LGBTQ+ flag came after Mayor Shaun Sipma made a proclamation to recognize the month of June as Pride Month in Minot — which Magic City Equality, a local advocacy group, requested. Representatives of Magic City Equality did not attend the council meeting because they had received a death threat.

Evans, a Minot State alumna, highlighted the benefit that a college experience can have on a person’s ability to speak in an argumentative yet respectful manner.

“The past few weeks, we’ve seen the importance of higher education and the tools that the classroom provides to people to respectfully disagree and to put their ideas to the intellectual challenge of their peers,” she said. “We’ve seen a lack of that at city council.”

Evans is also the first lesbian elected official in the state of North Dakota.

“It is especially important because our campus is embedded in a broader society and, which as we know, we cannot always rely on people and institutions to accept us as lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, and related people; to accept us as Black, Indigenous, and people of color; to accept us as those of lower social and economic class,” said Singer.

Fehr-Dallolio started the club after he noted the lack of representation of an LGBTQ+ organization at the annual Minot State club fair two years ago.

“What I noticed was a table by itself with a piece of tape holding a piece of paper that read LGBT. There were no representatives. There was no rainbow. There was no glitter, there was nothing,” Fehr-Dallolio said.

The club was disbanded after the involved students graduated and no one else took ownership of the club.

“Something as simple as hanging this flag will show students, faculty, staff, and coaches on our campus that this university stands with them, regardless of who they choose to be or who they choose to be with. It will shine a light on this campus brighter than you could ever imagine,” Robbins said.

The colors of the pride flag represent the following: red represents life; orange represents healing; yellow represents sunlight; green represents nature; blue represents harmony; and purple represents the spirit.

“This is just one task on the list of steps to making this university as inclusive and well-rounded as it can be. Be happy and grateful, but never be satisfied. There’s always more to do,” Robbins said.

Minot State alumna Krueger spoke about the importance of being supportive even if you are not part of the LGBTQ+ community yourself.

“I’m an ally because yes, I have close friends and relatives who are members of the LGBT community. I’m also a citizen in a society where people who I don’t even know are hurting and suffering and dying,” Krueger said. “And I can’t accept that, so I do what I can.

“I can model for others how to accept and love and support and listen, then maybe I can live in a world where flying this flag won’t be questioned by anyone anymore.”

The public’s response at the city council meeting may have not been what people expected or wanted to hear, but it did start conversations in the community and on campus.

“I knew my Minot and it was not those people. It was us. For the past two weeks, those people have been amazingly loud,” Evans stated. “Find that voice, keep that voice, and don’t shut up. They want us to shut up. They want us to go away. They want us to live our little queer lives in quiet, and that’s not who we are.”

“Our pride is pride in ourselves as lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, and related people, and it connects us to all of the other communities of gender, race, and class within which we live,” Singer said. “To say who we are lifts us up and saying who we are enables us to lift others.”

Minot State University Campus Pride Club streamed the flag raising on their Facebook page, where the video is available for viewing. The club’s next meeting will be on Oct. 14 and will be conducted virtually on Zoom — links are located on their Facebook page.

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