Celebrating diversity and individuality: a reflection on Pride Week and SUU’s pride alliance programs

From April 3-7, Southern Utah University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Pride Alliance held various events throughout the week celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.

On Monday, April 3, SUU held a Drag Queen Brunch in the Sharwan Smith Student Center Ballroom, where attendees enjoyed a meal while watching drag queens showcase their outfits and routines As one of the most anticipated events of the week, tickets for the performance were sold out days before.

Monday and Tuesday, April 3-4, the Pride Alliance held its annual Film Festival. Visitors watched films by and about members of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as heard from keynote speakers. More information can be found here.

Students on campus also had a chance to dive deeper into the physiological and cultural studies of the LGBTQIA+ community at the All-Inclusive Sex Education workshop held on Wednesday, April 5, and the Queer Across Cultures event on Thursday, April 6.

Lastly, on Friday, April 7, SUU celebrated with the SUU Pride Parade, which started in the Sharwan Smith Student Center. Students and faculty walked around campus, waving various pride flags and enjoying each other’s company.

These and other activities throughout the year, usually organized by the Pride and Equality Club, are one of the ways SUU helps LGBTQIA+ students feel welcome and included on campus.

“Our intention with PAEC is to give involved students a social group of others like them,” said Adam Oliphant, one of the members. “Comradery and community is very vital to the human condition, and we want to make people feel like they are welcome and they are not alone.”

While the PAEC helps queer students find a home on a social level, SUU has also made efforts to extend their care to students on a personal level. The university recently opened the Q Center, located in the Student Center in ST 122B, with the purpose of helping students receive support in various aspects of their education. It also gives a chance for people of all backgrounds to deepen their understanding of the LGBTQIA+ community and how to support them.

“It aims to provide resources, education and academic support to the LGBTQ+ community and their allies in order to create community and amplify queer joy,” said Cynthia Hawk, the Q Center assistant director.

The Q Center has allowed the LGBTQIA+ community to expand beyond the CDI and to other parts of campus. “We have another safe space that we can go to,” said Arianna Marroquian, who was recently elected to be 2023-2024’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

With these organizations, as well as the individual support from various faculty and staff around campus, Southern Utah University continues to grow in its efforts to help all students, no matter their background, feel welcome.

“We understand that there are a wide variety of queer identities,” said Hawk. “We want to make all of them feel welcome, supported and heard regardless of factors like race, gender, biological sex, political standings, economic and social class, disability and religious identity/background.”

Students, faculty and staff and all at SUU are invited to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community and how to support them.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion can mean so much more than just cultural difference,” said Marroquian. “Expand your mind, consider intersectionality, open yourself up to events like this.”

“Be understanding and open minded,” Oliphant added. “Go about your life trying to seek more information. You don’t need to be queer to like queer.”

Article by: Andrea Rodgers
Photos courtesy of Adam Oliphant and the Pride and Equality Club
Cover photo courtesy of Cecile Johnsen via Unsplash