Alumna gifts art exhibit to promote deeper understanding of the LGBTQ community

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumna Jennifer Storm recently donated the Jennifer R. Storm Family Flag Project to the Penn State LGBTQA Student Resource Center. Storm conceived the project to give a visual presence to the harassment, violence and discrimination experienced by the LGBTQ community.

The Jennifer R. Storm Family Flag Project is a community created visual display, similar to the Clothesline Project. The project transforms the rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBTQ community, into an exhibition of personal stories. Storm has collected hundreds of stories through interactive workshops where individuals create panels to represent their experiences or the experiences of someone they know.

“I brought the project back to Penn State because this is where it belongs,” Storm said. “It was born here out of my experiences and the experiences of so many other LGBTQ students on this campus.”

The project came after the frustration and sadness Storm felt in the wake of the murder of a gender non-conforming 16-year-old Native American from the Navaho tribe. The silence of the public and the media in response to the event activated in Storm a need to bring awareness to the silence surrounding so many of these acts of hate, discrimination and violence directed toward LGBTQ individuals and their various intersecting identities.

The goal of the project is to raise awareness of this silent suffering in a non-threatening way. But through the workshops, the project also serves as a powerful medium for people to creatively express themselves as well as an outlet for healing.

The LGBTQA Student Resource Center, a unit of Penn State Student Affairs, plans to display the Jennifer R. Storm Family Flag Project’s six panels during Pride Week in March 2018. The center staff is also exploring a permanent home for the project at Penn State. The center plans to continue the mission and founding principles of the project and work with students to continue growing the Penn State LGBTQ+ story.

“We are honored that Jennifer decided the project should live at Penn State,” said Brian Patchcoski, director of the LGBTQA Student Resource Center. “The project embodies so many aspects of the larger human experience that will absolutely connect with the Penn State community. I believe it will help us to expand the understanding of the diversity within and outside the LGBTQ+ community. We hope to build upon the wonderful foundation that Jennifer has created and challenge our students to create the next chapter for this project. We hope having the project and panels at Penn State will spark ongoing discussions about identity and promote an understanding of LGBTQ+ issues and experiences through visual expression.”

“I hope someone sees the panels, feels like they are walking in someone else’s experiences, and then walks away with a different perspective or reality than they had before,” said Storm. “I want the project to be a memorial to the hurt and pain experienced by the LGBTQ community, but also serve as a means of visual hope and gratitude for those who went before us and paved a more accepting and loving world.” 

For more information about giving to the LGBTQ Student Resource Center, or contact Andrea Pagano-Reyes, director of development for University Programs, at amp244@psu.edu or visit www.universityprograms.psu.edu/studentaffairs/.

Last Updated October 09, 2017