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Students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged and invited to show their support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community April 11 during the third annual Fox Valley LGBTQ Ally March.

The evening will kick-off with a gathering for the Ally March at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Reeve Memorial Union Ballroom at 5 p.m. The evening continues with a 5:30 p.m. rally in the Reeve Ballroom led by State Senator Jessica King; the march begins at 6:30 p.m. on High Avenue on campus and ends in Opera House Square in downtown Oshkosh.

The evening will also include an art and written word contest, showcasing artists’ and writers’ interpretations of what it means to them to be a LGBTQ ally. There will also be a booths set up by organizations sponsoring the event.

Steven Kuecker, a fifth-year student at UW Oshkosh who is studying English and philosophy, emphasizes the importance of the event.

“It’s cool. It shows people that we deserve to be here to,” said Kuecker. “It also shows the importance of how we are the same as any other person, and that we deserve to be supported and respected just like anyone else.”

Liz Cannon, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center at UW Oshkosh, who is involved in putting the Ally March together, feels passionate about the event and spreading the message throughout the campus and Oshkosh community.

“The purpose of this day is to create an opportunity for the University and the City of Oshkosh communities to come together in support of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender colleagues, students, neighbors, friends and family members,” said Cannon.

Founded in the fall of 2008, the mission of the LGBTQ Resource Center is to offer programs and services to the surrounding community. The Ally March is just one example of how the LGBTQ Resource Center responds to the concerns and needs of the community and their allies.

Ashley Sweno, a professional counseling graduate at UW Oshkosh, participated in last year’s march and believes in the cause.

“Being a part of Ally March event has given me the chance to show my support to the LGBTQ community. I have a great uncle that is gay and until I was 18 I had no idea.  While he was out to the adults in my family the kids did not know, I wish my family would have felt they were able to share,” Sweno said.

Cannon hopes good will come from the annual event.

“We hope to send the message that together we make it better. We (want to) make our community and our University a more respectful and celebratory place for all who live here and go to school here,” Cannon said.

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