Despite the hot afternoon sun, students and staff gathered at Pomona College's Walker Wall on Saturday, April 1. Their aim: to paint most of the wall in rainbow stripes to kick off Gaypril, a “month of LGBTQQIAA Pride,” according to the website of the Queer Resource Center.
Buckets of paint were poured into three bowls per color: one for a light shade, one for a medium shade, and one for a dark shade. The participants, armed with rollers and trays of paint, descended upon the sections of the wall marked for their color and began to turn the whitewashed sections into a long strand of repeating rainbows.
By the end of the painting session, the wall was covered in a spectrum of diagonal stripes, the grass was littered with paintbrushes and painter’s tape, and the participants were spattered with dried paint.
“For me, it's just fun to paint things and also I think it's just a really cool thing where the [Queer Resource Center] gets to take over the whole wall for an entire month,” said Cal McMillan PO ‘17, who works at the QRC. “I think it's just like really in your face, like ‘we're here, we're queer.’”
In past years — according to Al Forbes, interim director of the QRC — the wall was painted in solid stripes of only six colors. Starting last Gaypril, however, the QRC decided to go with a larger spectrum of colors on the wall.
“There are so many different communities and identities and experiences within the LGBTQIA quote-unquote community,” Forbes said. “We've been able to create a spectrum to show … there are multiple communities within that larger umbrella and all experiences and identities are valid and celebrated.”
While most of the wall was painted white before the actual painting event, some sections were left untouched. In particular, the mural reading “UNDOCUMENTED/UNAFRAID/UNAPOLOGETIC” in support of undocumented and DACAmented students was covered in pieces of tape, showing where the rainbow stripes would go, but the words still remained.
Once the painting was complete, the words clearly remained on the wall, surrounded by a slowly cascading rainbow of colors.
The inescapable rainbow now covering Walker Wall perhaps stands as a symbol for Gaypril. Gaypril, according to Forbes, “brings visibility to issues that queer and trans people are experiencing.”
For the entirety of April, the QRC has planned out talks, social events, and performances, as well as more traditional college events such as the Lavender Graduation on April 27.
“I'm running the last Gaymer Night, which is cool,” McMillan said. “The Queer Faculty Symposium is back … and Sandra Kim is going to be speaking at Lav Grad and she's doing another event, where she's speaking to the public.”
For Claire Eldredge-Burns PO ‘17, who showed up later in the day to help, the simple act of helping paint was a memory in itself.
“It was incredibly satisfying,” she said. “It was great to be working, to be working alongside people. … [The] colors … and the design is gorgeous. I like the way that it is integrated with the aspects of the wall that are already existing and the art and work that people have put into this wall, especially recently.”