Pride On Campus: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month

EN photo by Julia Bonavita.

EN photo by Julia Bonavita.

Kevin Green, Staff Writer

Last month, FGCU’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance held several events to honor and celebrate pride, concluding with a pride parade and block party.

GSA’s outreach officers worked hard to bring together campus groups to bring awareness to the community throughout the week, emphasizing the importance of community and awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues. These events can be especially important for college students, who may have never had the opportunity to attend pride at home.

GSA Vice President Frances Love wasn’t able to attend pride until he was 19 years old.

“That overwhelming joy of being in a community space and being around other queer people, and seeing older queer people, seeing younger queer people, seeing their supportive family and friends– it definitely impacts my approach to Pride Week here on campus,” Love said.

Pride has a long and rich history, but it most famously began with the riots that took place at Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, in 1969 after the patrons of the bar fought back against the unjust police raids that were once a common occurrence.

It may seem like it has been a long time since those momentous protests, but gay marriage was only legalized six years ago in the United States. This year has seen the passage of a record number of anti-transgender bills, making it clear why pride still holds deep importance for LGBTQIA+ individuals here in the states and around the world.

“Pride events like Pride Week that occurred this past week are so important because they uplift gender and sexual minorities as well as educate on topics of gender and sexuality and the history of Pride,” Lukas Goldstein, an outreach officer of the GSA, said. “Pride events and people being out as always made me feel more comfortable with my own identity, but it was really GSAs that impacted my own journey and self-discovery.”
The sentiment that seeing and experiencing the support of other members of the LGBTQIA+ community can be life changing for those who have never experienced it before was widespread. Other officers shared similar feelings.

“One of the pride events my freshman year here at FGCU had such an immense impact in my life… it was probably the best thing to happen to me during my first semester here,” Charlie Haas, another outreach officer of the GSA, said. “Going to those pride events and being a part of GSA has taught me so much that I cannot imagine I would be who I am today without them.”

The pride parade that concluded the week started at the South Village Green, following the road to the heart of campus— a line of golf carts decked out in the colors of pride flags and people on foot, members of the community and allies alike, showing their support and pride in their identities.

For those who aren’t LGBTQIA+ who want to support the community, the officers suggest listening and being open to learning.

“One thing I’ve noticed is that some people think they need to be LGBTQIA+ to come to events or meetings, and that is simply not true,” Haas said.

It’s important for allies to be open to correction when they’re wrong, to allow themselves to become educated to be better. Being wrong happens, it’s in how an ally corrects themself that shows their support.

The GSA did not stop educating when Pride Week ends— they meets every Thursday at 7:30 pm in Lutgert Hall 2201, for those who wish to attend. They hold several events independent of other departments, including Pride Prom, which provides a safe space for LGBTQIA+ college students to make up for high school proms where they may not have been safe to attend as their truest selves.

“We love seeing allies at our events, especially ones with educational components,” Haas said. “It is great seeing people who want to learn so that they can be better allies, as well as people showing their support.”