June was LGBT Pride month. On campus the Queer Resource Center celebrates Pride the last week of May to give students and community members a chance to preview the excitement and community celebration that comes along with the city wide celebration in mid-June.
This year our week of Pride events included a wildly popular clothing exchange and an all-day carnival on Friday. We also had our own week-long movie series and educational workshops ranging from how to find queer friendly work environments to safer sex practices workshops. All of our events allowed students take a little break from the stress of finishing classes to relax and celebrate a part of their identities.
LGBT Pride has not always had such a celebratory nature. The weekend filled with parades and carnivals we in queer communities have come to lovingly call Pride originated in the U.S. as a community protest against discrimination and harassment called the Stonewall Riots. Over the years Pride has evolved into a community gathering and affirmative celebration of self. The evolution of how our LGBTQI communities have honored the remembrance of the Stonewall Riots reflects the evolution of our communities.
One event during PSU’s Pride events highlighted both the history of Pride and where it’s headed. The QRC hosted an intergenerational panel that invited LGBTQI young adults to communicate across age barriers with older LGBTQI communities. Student volunteers and QRC staff members engaged with older community members, including members of PSU faculty, to discuss differences in language usage and cultural differences between generations of LGBTQI communities. There was a palpable energy to the conversation. The younger students leaned in to catch every detail of older community members’ recalling how the AIDS epidemic had personally impacted their lives. Younger students were eager to explain why and how the word queer is being reclaimed and accepted. The conversation was a rare opportunity for younger and older queer people to connect about a shared history and culture. Students and faculty alike left expressing a desire for continued intergenerational interaction and mutual learning.
The Intergenerational Panel spoke to multiple generations of LGBTQI people and emulated the spirit of Pride’s current incarnation of community celebration. The event provided students, faculty and community members with an opportunity to honor the struggle of past queer movements and recognize the gains and lengths still to go for queer communities. Hopefully, this event reflects where Pride is headed – a future of community connection and engagement.