October marks LGBTQ+ History Month, which celebrates the community’s notable contributions to the country and observes the fight for equal rights. Historically Black colleges and universities took part in the celebrations through their own HBCU Out Loud Day, held on the third Wednesday of the month. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation originally introduced the event to carve out a space for Black LGBTQ+ students at HBCUs.

“We established HBCU Out Loud Day, and it was a day that we wanted people to be out loud in their own way on campus,” Leslie Hall, the founder of HBCU Out Loud Day and HRC’s HBCU program director, told the Advocate. “We would rely heavily on the campuses themselves to post or, plan, post and organize events for their own community. We didn’t want it to be such a lift where we were planning the events on their campuses.”

About 14 HBCUs participated in this year’s celebrations, including institutions such as Howard University, Dillard University and Alcorn State University. The event included initiatives such as workshops, panel discussions and educational programs that highlighted the unique experience of being both Black and queer. The event also served as a space where students could embrace their identity without the pressure of coming out.

“It really is a day for campuses to embrace their LGBTQ community in a way that feels natural to them,” Hall added. “It’s also not Coming Out Day. And I think that is what folks just had some angst about.”

A student shared her thoughts on the event and noted the impact of having that representation on campus.

“The initiative behind HBCU Out Loud Day is what DU PRIDE is all about,” Tyronae Smith, a student at Dillard University, told the news outlet. “We want to celebrate and embrace black queerness and be unapologetic about it.” 

The event is about representation and highlighting the contributions of LGBTQ+ people of color to the community and its fight for civil rights.

“We want campuses to roll out the welcome mat for their LGBTQ students,” Halls said. “If it’s HBCU Out Loud Day, then that’s another way that students can really see themselves represented on the campus.”