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LGBTQ+ students share how they celebrate Pride

DTH Photo Illustration. A person walks down a street wearing a pride flag.

For members of the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Month is a time of unapologetic celebration and unity.

UNC students are celebrating Pride during June by uniting in shared experiences, attending festivals and parades, and hosting intimate gatherings for LGBTQ+ students. 

What Pride means

For some of the LGBTQ+ students at UNC, Pride Month means a number of different things. 

Bri Smith, a rising junior, said Pride is about embracing and being proud of her identity. 

"For a lot of my childhood, I wasn't really out fully," Smith said. "And so, Pride connects me to that history of LGBT, queer members."

Queer People of Faith President Kylie Mizelle said she also feels more connected to LGBTQ+ history during Pride month.

“Around this time every year, a lot of the historical background of Pride comes back up,” she said. “We're able to really celebrate the people of color and the trans women of color who started the movement, and really embrace those roots.”

Mizelle said in her experience, Pride is about living her truth and coming into her own power as an individual.

Student celebrations

Before the pandemic, festivals were held all over the country to celebrate Pride Month — including Out! Raleigh Pride, which will be held as a car parade this year.

In addition to spending time with the people she loves, Jessie Gleason, a rising junior, said she will be reflecting on the importance of last year’s Pride celebrations in Raleigh and Durham during the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“There were some really cool, queer-organized protests in the name of Black Lives Matter and all of the Black trans women that had been murdered recently by the police,” Gleason said. “And just really being reminded that Pride is, as much as it is a celebration, it also is a protest.”

In these reflections, Gleason said that going to local gatherings and celebrations this year where the LGBTQ+ community feels safe and welcomed was more important to her than making Pride Month about big corporate events.

Addressing intersectionality

Smith said it is important to uplift the voices of Black queer individuals who were on the front lines of the LGBTQ+ movement, yet received little recognition for their accomplishments. Addressing this intersection is important for making Pride Month a welcoming event, Smith said.

Another important step is to recognize the internal racism, misogyny and transphobia within the LGBTQ+ community, Gleason said. 

“Pride is supposed to be for all of us and actually listening to people when they say their needs,” she said.

Director of the LGBTQ+ Center Terri Phoenix said Carolina’ students, faculty and staff work year-round to develop programs to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. T said these efforts lay a foundation to create a more inclusive environment for students — regardless of their identities. 

“We also stand in support of all LGBTQ students and allies during Pride Month as they celebrate wherever they may be,” Phoenix said.

For more information on direct support and advocacy resources for the LGBTQ+ community, click here.

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