LGBT Resource Center Spreads Holiday Cheer to Inmates

%28Photo+by+Kiffer+Creveling%29

Kiffer Creveling

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

 
This holiday season, the LGBT Resource Center hopes to lift the spirits of incarcerated members of the LGBTQ community by writing them cards.
Participants of the holiday card drive and bake sale, held in the Union on Wednesday, hoped to write 150 cards to send out to jail and prison facilities in Utah, Nevada and Colorado. Olivia Dyson, an intern at the LGBT Resource Center, and Julie Rada, a postgraduate student in the College of Fine Arts, organized the event. They gathered addresses of inmates from Black and Pink, an organization dedicated to connecting the incarcerated LGBTQ community to the outside world.
“A lot of these people who are incarcerated are put into solitary confinement or separated from the general public with little to no human contact,” Dyson said. “By doing this holiday letter drive, they will be getting letters during a time of year that everyone knows should be filled with family, warmth and fun.”
The organizers provided a sample as a loose guideline to ensure the cards were appropriate and supportive. The example also helped individuals who had never before written to someone who was incarcerated.
“There’s probably a lot of people who are walking around this campus who know family members or friends who are incarcerated and aren’t talking about it,” Rada said.
In the LGBTQ community, Rada said, there is a history of people who identify as queer being criminalized and policed in ways that nonqueer individuals are not.
“We want to show that this is an issue,” Dyson said. “There are mass numbers of incarcerated individuals who need support.”
Rada said they chose to do a public event in a high traffic area of the Union to generate more engagement from the community about both LGBTQ support and incarceration.
“They’re both considered taboo topics,” Rada said. “We could have mobilized the LGBTQ Center to make 150 cards, but the point was to raise awareness and start a conversation.”
In addition to crafting holiday cards, the other goal of the event was to generate donations to Black and Pink. Chartwells provided the cupcakes and an individual could either donate $1, write two letters, or write one letter and donate 50 cents for a cupcake.
Reghan Boelter, a freshman in medical laboratory science, said she appreciated the event’s effort in making handwritten cards to reach out to individuals.
“Nowadays everything is really electronic, and I feel like it’s more sincere and authentic when you actually write something,” she said. “I know in my place, I would be so happy to get a letter. It’s a great way to show that people still care about you.”
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