On October 18, the first-ever University of Redlands Diversity Pride Parade gave students within the LGBTQ+ community an outlet to celebrate their identities and to hear from students within the community who felt unable to come out for various cultural reasons. The more than 200 enthusiastic participants included students, faculty, staff, and community members.
“Every coming out story is uniquely different,” says Komz Muthyalu ’20, president of the Redlands International Student Association (RISA), one of the parade’s sponsors. “We recognize that some experiences are harder than others, and we see how in Western culture coming out stories are glorified, while in reality not all are positive. To those in the LGBTQ+ community, acceptance is everything and we hope to make all those in this community feel welcomed here.”
In addition to RISA, the parade was sponsored by the University’s Asian Student Association, United Indigenous Nations Collective, Black Student Union, Middle Eastern Student Association, Alpha Chi Delta, Gamma Delta Rho, Alpha Xi Omicron, Multi-Faith Student Association, Race on Campus, Queer & Trans People of Color, Pride Center, and Campus Diversity and Inclusion (CDI).
Starting on the steps of the Administration Building, the event began with powerful and moving speeches from Angie Balderas of Chicano Indigenous Community for Culturally Conscious Advocacy and Action (ChiCCCAA) and the Sierra Club, and Mathew Taylor, core team member at ChiCCCAA.
They spoke to their own experiences and how, through adversity, they came out strong and were proud to be part of the LBGTQ+ community.
As remarks concluded, a wave of signs and rainbow flags with black and brown lines signifying diversity and inclusion filled the air as the parade processed through campus. Rally cries could be heard far and wide as people chanted their pride, loud and proud. The parade concluded in front of Hunsaker Plaza Center and continued into the Campus Diversity and Inclusion space in the Hunsaker Building, where people continued to celebrate.
“Through this initiative, we hope to shine a light on experiences that are normally silenced, acknowledge a person’s existence on this campus and beyond, and celebrate those who are underrepresented,” said Ridha Kapoor ’20, a Johnston Center for Integrated Studies student whose emphasis is Equitable and Accessible Education Reform. Ridha also serves as the intern for the Women and Gender Justice Center at U of R.
This event comes on the heels of several milestones. Redlands alumni Doug Hairgrove ’62 and Warren Wood ’62 were honored at an October 12 dinner, where it was announced that “The Doug and Woody Fund” had been named for them in appreciation of their recent leadership commitment to support Pride Center initiatives. Other donors to the fund will also be honored by having their names added to a plaque that will be installed in the Pride Center.
National Coming Out Day on October 11 also saw the rejuvenation of the Queers and Friends Potluck, providing added community for LGBTQ+ U of R faculty, staff, administrators, students, and their allies.
If you a member of the U of R community who identifies as LGBTQ+ or if you are an ally and want to show your support, we encourage you to connect with our Pride Center, firstname.lastname@example.org, located in Hunsaker Center.