The SUNY System has become an active participant during Pride in the month of June. The Student Assembly has championed the cause for LGBTQIA+ rights and inclusivity. Our advocacy agenda currently includes Gender Inclusion and Equity Funding, as well as resolutions such as the LGBT+ Safe Haven resolution that was recently passed in support of the community. From the Student Assembly Advocacy Agenda to marching in parades throughout the entirety of New York, including the World Pride Parade in NYC, SUNY plays a key role in representing and supporting the students of the LGBTQIA+ community. SUNY kicked off their Pride Month celebrations with the SUNY Pride Block Party and Workshops mid-June that were held at the SUNY Global Center in NYC. At first, I was not sure what to expect as it was my first attending any sort of Pride oriented event. I can proudly say that SUNY exceeded every expectation I had!
In the morning we had two helpful and insightful workshops presented by various people on topics such as issues that affect LGBTQIA+ identifying students on campuses such as discrimination and prejudice, as well as understanding the LGBTQIA+ community’s campus culture through an intersectional lens. Being a leading member of the Gender Equity Committee, we recently passed a resolution ensuring that SUNY campuses are able to provide a safe haven/environment for LGBTQIA+ identifying students. It’s important that we bring notice to this topic so that this community feels included and welcome not just at their designated school, but throughout the SUNY System.
Following the workshops, keynote speaker DJ Zeke Thomas gave an empowering presentation on the importance of persisting through tough times. I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and how he made genuine connections with everyone in the audience as well. It’s important for people to know that unless it’s actually the end of the world, that the fog will clear, and everything will be okay. Sometimes everyone needs to hear it, and I sure did.
We also got to observe and participate in a SUNY Alumni Panel full of extremely successful SUNY Alumni. in the work force who identify as LGBTQIA+.
It was really amazing to listen to all of their experiences with topics such as gay marriage or just simply being out and proud, and how different things were back then. I’m glad to have heard about experiences within the community through different lens, as everyone’s experiences are different. After our morning session, students were invited SUNY Pride Block Party! From the live performances from local drag queens, to the SUNY’s Got Your Back assembly event, to the Pride confetti photo booth the afternoon was packed with fun things to do. It was a great way to kick off Pride month and I’m really glad I got to attend the Block Party!
However, the festivities didn’t stop there. Towards the end of June, I was invited to ride on the float with SUNY in the Pride Parade! I had never been to pride before, let alone rode on a float so this Pride was extremely special to me. I also got to stand on the float with fellow students and friends from SUNYSA, which was such a fun time. Once it was our turn to join the parade, over 400 SUNY students, faculty and staff marched through the streets of NYC with the Stony Brook Marching Band leading the way.
This day was the happiest I’ve ever been. Marching through the parade with SUNY and seeing so many smiling faces cheering us on was just the greatest feeling in the world. I’m so glad I was given that opportunity to be with friends and march with SUNY, and I hope I get to do it again next year!
Written by Kaitlyn Trusty, student leader at SUNY Canton