by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
Milk & Cookies
Students Organizing for LGBTQ Equality (SOLE) held a screening of Milk - Gus Van Sant's award-winning 2009 film about the life, political career, and assassination of Gay rights hero Harvey Milk - at the University of Washington's Allen Auditorium on January 14. The event, titled 'Milk & Cookies,' featured the movie screening, homemade cookies, and a safe space for LGBTQ youth to meet and discuss topics of interest.
SOLE consists of a group of students and supporters from the University of Washington that advocates for solving LGBTQ issues.
"We wanted to get people excited about activism and to have a night where we could all get together," SOLE member and Milk & Cookies organizer Mario Lemafa told SGN. "The core of this event was to inspire, re-invigorate, and remind ourselves to keep pushing and doing activist work. Plus, it's always wonderful to eat homemade cookies."
Lemafa said SOLE filled the room to capacity with nearly 70 people in attendance. "It was a very cozy event," he said. "Emily Juhre, Ethan Boyles, Caitlin Donelly, Daniel Newcomb, and Adam Quillian helped to plan this hugely successful SOLE event. Also, Sarah Henderson and Jeniffer Gibbons baked around 400 cookies for us!"
The first time Lemafa saw Milk, he left the theater inspired to become actively involved in the Gay community. Looking at the audience at the Milk & Cookies event, he realized that many in attendance were watching the movie for the first time. "At the end of the event, there was not a dry eye in the auditorium," Lemafa told SGN. "Events like Milk & Cookies strengthen our communities, our love for each other, our work, and most of all, our resolve."
"We are Harvey Milk's legacy. We are the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jane Addams, and the thousands of people who marched for their rights," he said. "We need to remember that."
SOLE is a new organization. According to Lemafa, there had never been a UW LGBTQ activist organization before SOLE came along in the fall of 2009. They have consistently worked on projects and events ever since.
Along with the Milk & Cookies event, SOLE staged a kiss-in at UW in support of Referendum 71; held a candlelight vigil for the murders of Gay youths Jorge Mercado and Jason Mattison, Jr.; tabled on UW campus to get students to approve Referendum 71; endorsed, volunteered and marched in the National Equality March in Seattle as a contingent of Seattle OUTprotest; and is currently working to organize a forum in Seattle about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
"We hope to continue the vision of equality for all by doing activist work on campus that seeks to foster the talent and potential of new activists, while also bringing together seasoned veterans to make great changes for the community at large," Lemafa told SGN. The group isn't just for students, either. "We have a Facebook page, and all are welcome to join."
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