Celebrating Pride Month on Campus
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- Celebrating Pride is one way to support and encourage diversity and inclusion at school.
- Pride Month is celebrated in June to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising.
- Learn how to participate in Pride Month celebrations on campus and organize your own Pride activities.
LGBTQ+ Pride Month occurs each June in the United States to memorialize the Stonewall Uprising that occurred in the late 1960s. The month centers on celebrating LGBTQ+ culture, uplifting LGBTQ+ voices, and supporting LGBTQ+ rights.
A 2019 survey conducted by the Association of American Universities reported that roughly 16% of college students identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and/or questioning. It is important that colleges recognize this month and that institutions of higher education celebrate the contributions LGBTQ+ students make on their campuses.
Why Do We Celebrate Pride Month?
The celebration of Pride Month is anchored in June in remembrance of the Stonewall Uprising. The Stonewall Inn was a bar in Greenwich Village that served as a gathering place for many gay members of the community. One night, police raided the establishment, arresting both employees and customers. This led to six days of clashes and protests. Although there had been many previous acts of resistance and protests from the LGBTQ+ community, this event served as an inflection point in the gay civil rights movement.
On the first anniversary of the uprising, a march was organized down Christoper Street to Central Park under the theme of "Gay Pride." Since then, similar marches have expanded across the United States in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.
Pride is observed to remember the historical struggle and marginalization of the LGBTQ+ community and to celebrate the many contributions of LGBTQ+ people. Taking the time to acknowledge the positive impact of LGBTQ+ people fosters diversity and highlights the importance of embracing an inclusive community.
Ways to Celebrate On a College Campus as an Ally
For those celebrating as allies, there are many considerations to make before celebrating Pride Month on campus. First and foremost, you should understand the true meaning of Pride. It's not just a party. For many, it's also a form of protest where members of the LGBTQ+ community unabashedly celebrate their identities — identities that have been stigmatized and criminalized throughout history.
You should also respect the concept of being "out and proud." The queer space is often a celebration of uniqueness. Within the community, this may mean that people will unapologetically demonstrate their personalities through their outward appearance. It is critical for allies to understand the significance of these expressions and to avoid co-opting them as a prop for partying.
Another point to consider when partaking in Pride is being mindful of your privilege. Allies should be using their privilege to support — not appropriate — the celebration. This also means extending your privilege to protect those in the LGBTQ+ community who may face homophobic and transphobic comments and threats.
If you're an ally stepping into another community's celebratory space, whether at a parade or at events around campus, please be considerate by acting respectfully. Prioritize the requests and needs of people in the LGBTQ+ community, but also remember that the community is not a monolith — the best way to provide support might be different for different community members.
Organize Pride Month Activities
As a college student, you can work with campus organizations, faculty members, and diversity office coordinators at your university to help celebrate Pride. Many schools are invested in building more inclusive environments and working to ensure that there is no discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity on campus.
By lending a hand in organizing and volunteering for events, you can put your support into action. When you help "do the work" by supporting these events, you both honor the history of the Pride movement and celebrate the continuing achievements of the LGBTQ+ community.
10 On-Campus Pride Month Activities
- Arrange a series of movie nights for the month featuring films celebrating the LGBTQ+ community at an event center on campus.
- Organize an open mic night where the LGBTQ+ community can read poetry, sing, and perform. This is a great way for creatives to connect and showcase their talent.
- Create an LGBTQ+ ally button campaign on your campus. This can provide visible support for the community, and sale proceeds can be used to support relevant campus organizations.
- Host a binge-watching marathon for an inclusive television series in your dorm. With so many shows to pick from, including new releases like "Heartstopper," this can be a fun, low-prep event.
- Invite faculty members, notable community leaders, and business owners who are members of the LGBTQ+ community or allies to a meet and greet. Ask them to share their experiences with current students and provide some insight into life after college.
- Host an LGBTQ+ trivia night. Questions can include both history and pop culture references. Local campus organizations can also show their support by donating prizes to your event.
- Organize a campus concert featuring bands with LGBTQ+ members as a fundraising event for a local charity that supports the community. A small cover charge can go a long way.
- Design a student publication featuring notable alumni and current students who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. This can be an effective way to boost visibility on campus and promote networking.
- Read and share books by LBGTQ+ writers by hosting a book swap event at a cafe or your campus bookstore. Seek out opportunities to collaborate with your campus' creative writing and English departments.
- Organize a Pride parade for your dorm or campus, or attend and volunteer at a local parade. This is a great way to get involved and meet people in the community.
The Importance of Displaying Pride on Campus
It is important that members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies feel supported on campus. This support can present itself in many ways.
First, you can encourage organizations you belong to on campus to incorporate Pride into their visual media on campus, as well as through their social media presence. As an individual college student, you can also show support during your day-to-day life. Incorporating visual cues during Pride month — and also throughout the year! — demonstrates love, support, and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community.
Hanging signs and lights, reposting relevant content, and choosing Pride-celebrating clothing are simple ways to lend visible support to the LGBTQ+ community.
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10 Ways to Celebrate Pride as an Ally
- Add a Pride-themed frame to your profile pic on social media. This is a quick way to demonstrate your support for the LGBTQ+ community.
- Hang an ally sticker or sign on your dorm room door or window. Go a step further and add a personal message of love and support.
- Wear clothing and accessories that support the community. T-shirts can be purchased (try and support LGBTQ+ creators) or self-made and could include humor, history, or political statements.
- Amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ community members on social media. This can be as simple as commenting on and resharing content. By doing this, you're helping the OP reach a wider audience.
- Add a sticker or pin to your bike, car, or bookbag as a visual way to signal your support for the LGBTQ+ community.
- Display your support for a politician who advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. Let others know which politicians and campaigns are actively working to advance equity and inclusion.
- Light up the night by adding rainbow lights to your dorm window, your bike, or your car — let your Pride support shine.
- Post reviews for books written by LGBTQ+ authors to increase their visibility. From Kate Bornstein to Ocean Vuong to James Baldwin, there are so many worthy voices to showcase.
- Ask campus organizations to signal their support by adding signs to their physical campus spaces and on their social media accounts.
- Encourage students at your college to wear Pride shirts at events to signal support and acceptance.