OUTpatient, an LGBTQ club from UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine, organized a different kind of protest to Michael Knowles’ on-campus speech. Proud to see how quickly undergraduates organized their large protest outside Slee Hall, the medical students wanted to give students another option.
Their way to do that: a dance party in the Student Union.
Excitement was bubbling at the SU in preparation for OUTpatient’s LGBTQIA+ Dance Party, promoted by UB undergraduate LGBTQ clubs. The event featured DJ Billie Page and attracted the attendance of former Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton.
Kathryn Hobika, a member of OUTpatient and planner of the event, said that the committee settled on “having a day where we celebrate” to bring a different energy to the day.
“It was pretty clear immediately that the undergrads have been struggling with this for longer than we have, they have to deal with this hate group on a daily basis,” Hobika said.
The dance party was organized in response to conservative political commentator Michael Knowles’ speech on campus, which was titled “How Radical Feminism Destroys Women (And Everything Else).” Knowles’ appearance was endorsed by UB’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF).
Hobika said that OUTpatient’s plan was to follow the lead of undergraduate LGBTQ organizations because students at the medical school never have to interact with YAF.
One of the main promoters of the event, Our City Action Buffalo (OCAB), was tabling in the Student Union lobby for eight hours leading up to the event. Alongside their table were other undergraduate LGBTQ clubs such as PRISM, all handing out pride flags and stickers to anyone who wanted them.
“YAF receives more than triple the amount that LGBTQ organizations receive right now. (That ain’t right!),” the caption under the poster for the event on the OCAB Instagram account read.
OCAB representatives said their preparation for the event included hiring undercover security to keep “an eye out for any potential threats.”
The event was fed by a slow trickle of protesters as Knowles began his speech. As the lights went down in the Student Union and the floor shook with the bass of Nicki Minaj’s “Starships,” students spoke to The Spectrum about the importance of creating community in a time of campus-wide unrest.
“This event is all about positivity and inclusivity. Anyone can be here and they want to dance most alive. It’s about bringing people together and having unity,” Elana Cunningham, a senior English major attending the event, said. “Meanwhile, that event [Michael Knowles’ speech] is about segregating the nation basically, I wouldn’t want to be a part of something like that.”
Chloe Cottone, a member of the OUTpatient planning committee, called the turnout “decent,” and just about what they were expecting. Cottone said she had a good time dancing all night.
A poster for the event had a Cash App QR code and a Venmo username to collect donations for undergraduate LGBTQ organizations for those who could not come to show their support.
OCAB urged its Instagram followers to “please stay safe.”
Dominick Matarese contributed to the reporting of this piece.
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