New organization aims to empower campus LGBTQIA community

Trends Reporter

With aims to empower the community through mentorship, service and social change, People Respecting Individuality, Diversity and Equality—otherwise known as Bobcat PRIDE—has established itself as the newest LGBTQIA organization on campus.

A group of students formed the organization last month in an effort to create a safe space, resources and support for the LGBTQIA community, said PRIDE President Brianna Penney.

“We wanted to create a place that someone could go and feel comfortable in not knowing who they are or in being in-between,” Penney said. “We saw a need on campus, and we felt compelled to fill it.”

PRIDE’s mentoring program is a central part of the organization. Freshmen and transfer students are paired with an experienced mentor in the organization to help them cope and enjoy their time on campus.

To qualify, mentors participate in three different training workshops including Texas State Ally training, an at-risk training that focuses on suicide prevention and a “how-to” program detailing the specifics of mentorship within PRIDE.  

The workshops are designed to prepare mentors to properly handle any emotional or academic problems underclassmen might bring to meetings.

Along with person-to-person mentorship within the group, PRIDE has plans to engage in community efforts such as river clean up work, Bobcat Build and educational services to inform others about the presence of the LBGTQIA community in San Marcos.

Jordan Hollimon, vice president of PRIDE, said the organization has three different committees that focus on educational outreach, public relations and the mentor/mentee program. Hollimon said PRIDE plans to work with the other LBGTQIA organizations on campus as well.

“This has been an idea of mine for a year and a half,” Hollimon said. “We want to make an alliance within our community.”

Susan Taylor, Texas State police officer and PRIDE advisor, said she expects the organization will become a permanent on campus fixture.

“I really hope that this organization can become established on campus,” Taylor said. “Between serving the community and mentoring underclassmen, a group like PRIDE helps students to stay connected and encouraged by
their school.”

Taylor said membership in the organization is open to all students regardless of sexual orientation
and identity.

“Not every LBGTQIA person looks like the stereotype, so a place where their ideas, passions and opinions (can be expressed is) really what will make this organization,” Penney said. “It’s a path for their expression, really.”

The organization advocates respecting and treating others as equals, Hollimon said.

“We educate and help each other, but most of all we listen to each other on how to make our community better and how to move forward,” Hollimon said.