Across the nation, various celebrations recognizing LGBTQIA rights and freedoms are taking place in honor and remembrance of the effort toward equality. Although equality is celebrated all year, June has been recognized as Pride month.
In the United States, the last Sunday in June was celebrated and recognized as “Gay Pride Day.” According to the Library of Congress, the month of June was selected to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. Those riots are credited with being the single most important event that would eventually lead to the LGBTQIA rights movement.
However, in major cities across the nation, the “day” grew to a month-long series of events. The transition from day to month stems from a history of June being the anniversary of LGBTQIA events and milestones. These milestones include moments such as the decision of the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage.
Celebrations include parades, picnics, parties, workshops and concerts.
During Pride month, participants also recognize the fatal circumstances and treatment of LGBTQIA persons such as the attack on Orlando’s nightclub, where 49 individuals were killed.
LGBTQIA individuals historically have faced a variety of assaults and discrimination. Discriminatory acts often undermine attempts to foster student development and growth.
Stacie McGee, social work lecturer, has been involved in the Allies program for nearly nine years. She joined the organization to better serve students by letting them know her office is a safe place for self-expression.
“Students who identify as LGBTQIA say they often feel marginalized, alone and at risk for discrimination and bullying—even at the university level,” McGee said.
Texas State programs promoting awareness about sexual and gender identities through education and training have progressed since 1995.
According to a timeline provided by Heather Aidala, assistant director of Clinical Services, Texas State began its LGBTQIA activism through grassroots organizations.
“At one point, the only voice was grass-roots organizations,” Aidala said. “We have since then expanded to now hiring a specialist that is focused on the student development of our LGBTQIA community.”
The grass-roots organization eventually evolved into an institutionalized program from the office of student diversity and inclusion, known as Allies.
Allies of Texas State is a personal pledge made campus-wide. The pledge aims to create an inclusive and accepting campus for the LGBTQIA community at Texas State.
However, being a voice and advocate for the community is not exclusive to faculty and staff. There are numerous student organizations that share the mission of spreading awareness, educating on issues and pledging to protect the inclusive culture of the campus.
“Pride is something we celebrate every day,” said Jessica Soukup, LGBTQIA Alliance of Texas State staff co-chair. “Sure, there are more events during this month, but our campus organizations work the entire year to support each other.”
There are over a thousand faculty and staff who have pledged to be an ally.
“We trained over four hundred people in the last six months,” Soukup said.
The Allies Resources and organizations provide the student body and faculty with information regarding the promotion of visible support, increase of safe spaces, challenging oppression and improving the knowledge and understanding of LGBTQIA people.
“Students have told me that college is sometimes the first time they can truly begin to be who they are,” McGee said. “The Allies placard on my door signals I can be trusted to accept students as creative humans, deserving my attention, respect and thoughtfulness. I also wish for the day we don’t need Allies training; diversity deserves celebration and equality.”
The Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion states, “Our belief is that LGBTQIA persons excel as members of Texas State when their full identities are included and affirmed.”
As Texas State continues to increase its efforts in this matter, San Marcos adopted a similar culture of LGBTQIA acceptance and inclusion.
In December of 2014, the city welcomed its first and only LGBTQIA bar. Stonewall Warehouse serves as a reminder and milestone of the LGBTQIA movement.
Stonewall Warehouse is open to the whole community but works to celebrate and emphasize the culture. The business is holding special events for Pride month, the last weekend of June.
“We are not just a gay bar,” said Chris Rue, general manager. “We’re a great bar.”
As students find their way back into San Marcos following the summer months, SMTX Pride has scheduled the community’s third year of showing LGBTQIA Pride. Students are invited Sept. 9 to participate in the community-wide march. The parade will start at 10 a.m. and show support for the city’s LGBTQIA citizens while starting from Dunbar building to San Marcos Park Plaza. There is a timeline of events on the SMTX Pride website.