The LQBTQ Center will hold its eleventh annual “Love Is” celebration this week to celebrate love in its diverse forms and to crowdsource different communities’ perspectives on what love means to them.
The campaign, which started in 2009, will distribute free shirts from Feb. 10 to Feb. 14 emblazoned with “Love Is: ___ . ” Those wearing the shirts fill in the rest.
“We encourage participants to fill in the blank with a sexual orientation, romantic orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, race, other identifying factor, a poetic adjective or anything else that feels authentic,” said third-year College student Blair Smith, who interns at the LGBTQ Center.
The design is a twist on the campaign’s T-shirts from years past, which were lettered with “Love is Love.” This design change came last year — on the 10th anniversary of the celebration.
According to Smith, the shift from “Love is Love” to “Love Is: ___” seeks to include all communities within the LGBTQ+ movement, such as those who identify as aromantic, asexual or transgender.
“News stories, movies, TV shows, books, and other media often depict the ideal manifestation of love as a monogamous, heteronormative, romantic relationship (that is, between a heterosexual cisgender man and a heterosexual cisgender woman),” Smith said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “The ‘Love is’ campaign celebrates the diverse forms in which love manifests, be it queer, platonic, romantic, familial, communal, self-extended, and so on.”
To determine this year’s T-shirt design, Multicultural Student Services — the unit that encompasses the LGBTQ Center, the Multicultural Student Center, the Latinx Student Center and the Interfaith Student Center — coordinated a contest in December 2019. Second-year College student Molly McMullan won the contest with her design — a lilac shirt lettered with “Love Is” and a blank box below.
MSS works with Blue Ridge Graphics, a local screen-printing company, to print the shirts — a process funded by the Serpentine Society, the University’s network of LGBTQ+ alumni.
McMullan said the T-shirt’s design is itself a statement on the open-endedness of love.
“To me, the ‘Love Is’ campaign is about broadly representing what love is to each individual,” McMullan said. “It’s an opportunity to express yourself without having to explain yourself, to be vulnerable in a minimalist sort of way.”
Participants in the campaign are invited to a reception Friday at the Multicultural Student Center before heading to the Rotunda steps for a group photo and to sing the Good Ol’ Song.
“Love Is” shirts can be picked up in the LGBTQ Center, located on the third floor of Newcomb Hall, anytime before Feb. 14.