An event for LGBT+ pride awareness was hosted on the Keene State College campus on Friday, April 24.
The parade and corresponding concert were put on by KSC Pride, the college’s on-campus LGBT+ organization.
Devin Goodman, a first-year student part of KSC Pride who helped to organize the event, said that the day entailed gathering groups from both the LGBT+ and ally communities, and a march down Main Street to display support.
The day ended with a concert in the Night Owl Café featuring lesbian singer/songwriter Jesse Thomas.
“It’s so important to spread the message of acceptance around campuses because college students come from all walks of life,” Goodman stated.
He continued, “For those who might not feel comfortable being out, we want to make it clear that the campus they attend is doing everything it can to make them feel as safe and at home as any other college.”
KSC senior Lucy Briggs agreed with Goodman. “We really want people to know that they are accepted here,” Briggs, who is the public relations representative and membership organizer of KSC Pride, stated.
According to Briggs, the event started at 2 p.m. on Friday with live music from KSC students Roger Weeks and Kaylene Lemme. There, students and others in attendance could make posters, sign a banner and don colorful gear in preparation for the march down Main Street. In addition to signing banners, students in attendance were encouraged to sign petitions as well.
Briggs said, “We just want to make sure the administration knows how important [these issues are] to the students and
the trans community.”The petitions included a preferred first name policy, as well as the installation of gender neutral bathrooms.
Abby Milonas, a sophomore at KSC and active member of KSC Pride, said that she attended because she knew it was an environment she would be accepted in.
“It’s hard to find Pride events that take place in a non-adult setting,” Milonas stated, “Being in a place like Keene where there really isn’t a whole lot of diversity, I thought it would be a nice opportunity to hang out with people I know are in the same boat as me.”
Milonas continued, “KSC Pride actually recognizes other sexual identities, like pansexual, non-binary and asexual, as well as others that often get swept under the rug by mainstream LGBT+ activism. For me, it was fun to be in a place where I knew my sexuality wouldn’t be questioned or challenged.”
Milonas added, “The people in KSC Pride just accept me.” Milonas stressed the importance of hosting pride events on college campuses, as they give all students a comfortable environment to live in.
“Not only is it important for LGBT+ groups to be more active in colleges, it is vital to give LGBT+ students a safe space where they can take a break from the toxic environment that some of them have to live with on a day to day basis,” Milonas explained.
Joseph Stallcop, a KSC first-year, is not currently a KSC Pride member but said he plans to join the group next year. Stallcop described the Pride Parade as a major stepping stone in his life.
“By going to the parade, I found support and understanding through people who are extremely similar to myself, yet unique and independent in their own ways.”
He said, “It is one of the first big steps in knowing and understanding myself,” Stallcop explained.
Stallcop said he believes that while the fight towards a more LGBT+ friendly world is gaining speed, it is a fight that’s far from over.
“The road ahead of us is long and tough, but with the support that we have and progress we’ve made, I can see the day in which the biggest judge of every person is the content of their character,” Stallcop explained.
In the end, Stallcop concluded, it all comes down to support.
“For those who remain on the sidelines, we need your support,” Stallcop said, “For those who remain in the closet, we give our support.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org