By Rebekah Schroeder
Izzy Riddick, a sophomore history and second education major, filled PRISM’s open position as the Education & Advocacy Chair that had been mostly unoccupied since its creation.
Riddick felt it was the logical choice for them to take on the role in their freshman year, with future days to seize and meaningful change to bring.
Now the co-vice president of the LGBT+ group at the College, Riddick is part of the collective efforts which make the entire month of April something PRISM can continue to honor.
“We try and make the campus a better place, not just for LGBT+ students but students of pretty much any marginalized identity,” they said.
Gaypril, a long-standing tradition of springtime celebration, consists of events honoring the voices of the College’s diverse community members.
A self-described “jack of all trades” who has held multiple positions in his college endeavors, president and junior computer science major Forum Modi’s most anticipated feature of the month is the Charity Drag Variety Show on April 29. By combining drag events of the past and a general talent show, the performances raise money for The Covenant House, a New Jersey homeless shelter for youth in need of residential care.
For Modi, the fundraising builds on PRISM’s core values.
“The shelter actually promotes on their website that of the majority of homeless youth, a big percentage are LGBTQ+, so they’re really supportive of that and are just trying to help these kids have a more stable foundation in these lives while they’re growing up,” he said. “We’re basically donating money to this organization through our charity talent show.”
Hosted by drag queens Lady Celestina and Rhedd Rhumm, students can try out for the Zoom variety show by giving a preview of their performance on Wednesday, April 21. Hopeful participants looking to sign up can do so by filling out a form on the group’s Instagram.
Encouraged to showcase anything within the realm of school appropriateness, attendees are free to dress in drag, sing, dance, etc., as long as they express their personal flair. At home rather than in the Brower Student Center, though, some students may not be able to do what has been the group’s norm.
“We want to be more inclusive of the talents out there, be considerate of people’s situations and maybe also give the chance for students who don’t want to perform in drag to show off their talents,” said Patricia Nguyen, a senior biology major and the co-vice president and treasurer of the club.
April 15 at 8:30 p.m. was Virtual Jackbox Night, where guests enjoyed a series of party-style video games in a casual setting. Similar to Kahoot or other online engagements, people joined in for anything from group trivia to fill-in-the-blank prompts.
“It’s been hard getting people to do online events,” Riddick said. “We were originally planning something a little more educational, a little more serious, but then we were like, people don’t have that kind of energy right now, so let’s just do Jackbox.”
Using the light-hearted engagements as a way to round out the month, PRISM hopes to convey all sides of what their organization has to offer. By keeping the spirit alive through digital means, the main event can still take center stage.
On April 1, PRISM hosted their first event for Gaypril 2021, a celebration for Trans Day of Visibility with Kat Blaque, a YouTuber who is known for covering her experiences as a Black trans woman. She talked about the history of her gender identity and took questions from attendees, kicking off the month’s ambitious schedule.
The LGBTQ+ Alumni Networking Event on April 10 brought back past graduates from over the years to share their own personal stories.
As a senior executive board member, Nguyen’s favorite aspect of PRISM is hearing from others — the alumni panel was no exception.
“It was a small turnout but I really, really loved the conversations that we had,” she said. “There was a lot of comfort and intimacy, reflecting back at our panelists’ experiences at TCNJ and what happened to them afterwards.”
Even through remote learning, the president notes the importance of the work the group does.
“I realized there’s a lot of students on campus who do need PRISM to make programming for them and make them more visible on campus,” Modi said. “I just really enjoy PRISM and the work I do.”