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“Pride of the Illini” showcases LGBTQ+ stories and art at UIUC

A composite image shows 7 headshots, some photos and some drawings, as well as one drawing of a blaster, representing some of the contributors to the "Pride of the Illini" project.
"Pride of the Illini" is a student project by graduate Lindsay Peters which compiles an anthology of recorded poems, short stories and songs from members of the LGBTQ+ community on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. While not all contributors were comfortable using their names or likenesses in the published project, some chose to share a photo or art to be the cover image of their piece.

URBANA — Before graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in winter 2023, Lindsay Peters created a senior project that combined her passions for sound editing and LGBTQ+ community advocacy.

Peters wanted to combat the underrepresentation of the queer community in media, so she recorded and produced a series of original songs, poems and short stories by LGBTQ+ people from around the UIUC campus, which she dubbed the “Pride of the Illini.”

Peters’ goal was to tackle the lack of queer representation in media. To do this, she gathered and produced a collection of original songs, poems, and short stories from LGBTQ+ people across the UIUC campus. She titled this collection “Pride of the Illini.”

IPM reporter Owen Henderson spoke to Peters about her work.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

OWEN HENDERSON: How did you find people to participate in this project and then collect these pieces?

LINDSAY PETERS: So I originally made a flyer. I printed out a lot of those and put them all around campus in spots that I thought I could get a lot of interest like the music building, the LGBT resource center in the Union — places like that. Essentially, when people were interested, they filled out a Google form, put in all their information, and then I was able to schedule them for a recording. Yeah, it was a really fun process. I loved getting to meet so many different people on campus.

OH: Were there any pieces that spoke to you in particular?

LP: One that I really liked was “Ravishing” by Montgomery Tufts. That one was about basically about the language that we use to describe gender and how our bodies fit into a heteronormative world. And it’s specifically about like gender fluidity. And I thought that was really, really fascinating. It’s about pronouns versus how we look versus how we’re expected to look basically.



OH: What’s the reception been like?

LP: The reception that I got from people who weren’t involved — it’s all been super positive so far, which I actually wasn’t necessarily expecting. But I think we’ve come to a place where everyone realizes how important this is. So I was really glad that I got so much positive feedback from people who may not normally hear from like a queer side of things.

And from the people themselves, they were all really excited about the final product. Some of them were like, ‘This is great, but I don’t want my voice to be public.’ So I had to do some like editing of voice filters and stuff like that, which was completely fine.

And everyone had a different level of how public they wanted to be with it. But I think I found a way to share all the stories in the way that they wanted, in a way that they could share their personal experience without giving them away if they wanted to remain anonymous or slightly anonymous.

OH: What has putting together this project meant to you as a queer person?

LP: I thought it was great to see so many different, I guess, perspectives. But every every queer person has a different story. Their identity is basically their own, if that makes sense. So hearing things from all different sides was really interesting.

Obviously, my experience is going to look different from someone else’s. So being able to share the stories of so many people and how they feel they’re represented in the world. It really brought a different light. Because there were some people that it was just, ‘Here’s a poem about this love that I had with someone,’ and even in that… like it’s so simple, but you can learn so much about the queer experience.

And then you get people who are trans and have had to hide it their whole lives and like, you get that perspective as well. Yeah, it taught me a lot about how, yes, we’re all one community, but we all experience this differently.

Owen Henderson

Owen Henderson

Owen Henderson covers arts and culture, as well as LGBTQ issues for Illinois Public Media News. He studied journalism, Spanish and theater at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and has worked with Illinois Public Media in various capacities since 2021.

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