Hundreds participated in in-person and virtual events hosted by LGBTQ organizations at Penn to celebrate Pride throughout the month of June. The month-long celebration highlighted the sense of unity among queer and allied members of the Penn community.
This June, Penn organizations hosted events in celebration of Pride Month, many of which were conducted in a virtual or hybrid format because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The LGBT Center, a center created to support queer students, faculty, staff, and alumni, had a packed calendar of events for each week in June.
June is nationally recognized as Pride Month, in which members of the LGBTQ community and allies come together to celebrate and uplift their identities.
Penn alone is home to over 20 organizations that aim to support queer people on campus. Many organizations highlight the intersectionality within the community, such as J-Bagel, a group for Jewish LGBTQ members of Penn's campus, and Penn Queer & Asian, a student organization for Asian and Pacific Islander individuals who identify as queer at Penn.
The LGBT Center hosted many events at the center on Spruce Street to celebrate Pride, including a dance session on June 16 and a walk-in move night on June 9 to watch "Moonlight" — an Oscar-winning film about a Black man coming to terms with his sexuality. They also hosted "Pride on Ice" on June 23 in collaboration with Lambda Grads and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly at the Penn Ice Rink.
Erin Cross, the director of the LGBT Center, reported that over 150 attendees showed up to ice skate adorned with the many colors of Pride.
“People came decked out in their rainbow gear, their trans Pride gear — you name it. It was great,” she said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Penn community celebrated Pride Month virtually last year. This year, more events were able to be hosted in person in Philadelphia and on Penn's campus as previous COVID-19 restrictions were eased through the spring and summer.
Certain events held by the LGBT Center this year were fully virtual, such as a "LGBTQ+ Pride Trivia Night" on the last day of June which was organized in collaboration with PennGALA, the Penn LGBTQ alumni association. Lambda Grads and GAPSA organized an event on June 24 where attendees received flowers from the event planning company Alice’s Table to create their own flower crowns aided by instructors on Zoom.
Cross said that celebrating Pride can be important for many LGBTQ individuals at Penn because not everyone has the liberty of being 'out' in their day-to-day lives.
“Pride Month is about celebrating who we are, and for a lot of us — especially previously but still now — there are places where we can’t be our full selves. We have to hide our identity or our sexual orientation," Cross said. "At Pride, you know, you don’t have to think about whether it’s safe to be out. You can just be yourself, and anything you want to be, and I think that’s really the important message of Pride.”
In addition to interactive events, the LGBT Center also collaborated with Penn Libraries to create a Pride Month book and film selection that aimed to help readers "explore the LGBTQ experience from a wide variety of perspectives."
Cross said that the celebrations for Pride Month this year were a success and emphasized the solidarity and unity of LGBTQ individuals across campus.
“It was so joyous for everybody involved and it was something different,” Cross said. “It was a way to show unity in our community, and [show] that [Pride] really transcends all the different schools, all the different class years. LGBT people are all over the university.”