Celebrating Pride Month

Celebrating Pride Month

This Pride Month, Seattle University President Eduardo Peñalver and Vice President of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Natasha Martin, JD, shared this message with the campus in celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

As we mark the beginning of Pride Month, Seattle University celebrates and honors all individuals who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. We recognize the extraordinary strength and achievements of this community. To our students, faculty, staff and administrators, we see you and we appreciate all you bring to our university and the larger community.  

June heralds Pride each year in commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. This sparked an uprising. Protests erupted and continued for three days. This uprising catalyzed the emerging gay rights movement. Only one year after the momentous events at Stonewall, the first Gay Pride marches in the nation were held.

Today, more than 50 years after Stonewall, the rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities are still under attack. We have watched states across the U.S. attempt to roll back so many hard-won gains. According to the ACLU, nearly 500 pieces of anti-gay legislation have been introduced in 2023 alone.  

But the Pride movement is characterized by tenacity, brilliance, beauty and hope. Seattle University is a community of both proud LGBTQIA+ individuals and dedicated allies, those whose identities are at the heart of the fight and those who have chosen to fight alongside them. Challenges remain. But the courageous voices of the Pride movement are powerful and they will not be silenced.

In line with our LIFT SU principles, and in support of our commitment to pursuing inclusive excellence, we recognize and celebrate that fostering inclusion means amplifying voices from a variety of perspectives. We have invited two of our colleagues to share their reflections on what Pride Month means to them. We offer deep gratitude to Anton Zanotto, Assistant Dean of Students and director of Integrity Formation, and Assistant Professor and Co-Program Director Paige Gardner, PhD, of the College of Education, for sharing their stories and perspectives  and trust that you will receive their words with openness. 

Anton Zanotto
Assistant Dean of Students 
Director of Integrity Formation  

"I came to my queer identity slowly, coming out after college and without family and community. As I often do, I explored what it meant to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community by looking in the library for our history and our literature. Being in the Midwest (and in the rural Midwest at that), there weren’t a lot of folx to connect with. Coming to Seattle, I learned the value of making those connections and finding my community. So, when I thought recently about what Pride Month means to me, I came up with a few things: 

  • Pride is a protest: In a moment where trans* and queer rights are again under attack, we need to recall that Pride began as a protest against oppression. While there have been some improvements and we live in a progressive part of the country, they have disproportionately benefited parts of the LGBTQIA+ community. We have a responsibility to continue to push for change not just for ourselves but for our BIPOC and trans* siblings. 
  • ​​​Learn our herstory: Our modern movement is thanks to the work of queer BIPOC folx. Know the names of the folx who started our journey like Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin, Stormé DeLarverie, Audre Lorde, Allen Ginsberg, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Billie Jean King, James Baldwin, Edith Windsor and Harvey Milk.  
  • Uplift our leaders: We also have to celebrate our current leaders including Laverne Cox, RuPaul Charles, Sam Smith, Pete Buttigieg, Billy Porter, Lena Waithe, Z Nicolazzo, Lori Lightfoot and our own Dean Spade.
  • ​Be accomplices with others: It’s easy to get complacent or feel like we don’t have responsibility to fight with others in their struggles for liberation. Pride Month is a chance to recommit ourselves to fighting for liberation with others, including our BIPOC siblings, dis/ability activists, undocumented folx and our trans* community who are constantly under attack.  

"My hope this Pride Month is that together we can rekindle the flame of activism and hope. When we are together in community, we are stronger with our diversity of identity, experience and perspective."

Paige Gardner, PhD 
Assistant Professor & Co-Program Director
College of Education  

"When I think about Pride season joy spreads across my face. Since my sophomore year in undergraduate education, I have participated in this joyous occasion with chosen family and friends who inspire, affirm and love all of who I am! As a Black-queer, cis-woman I sit at the point of multiple intersecting marginalized and privileged identities. Though I experience high levels of systemic oppression, I also experience immense joy and communal empowerment. I often imagine the best parts of my intersecting identities as the eye of the storm—a place that offers sanctuary and peace amidst the storm of everyday trials and tribulations.  

"It is so easy to lose sight of joy when navigating people, places and spaces that do not foster a sense of belonging. It is so easy to put the work of joy, wellness and peace on the back burner in the name of justice and advocacy work. Most often, it is our most vulnerable folx on the margins of society who often put their bodies on the line for transformational justice and change. In understanding that justice work is a life-long commitment, I invite members of our SU LGBTQIA+ community (including myself) to slow down, pace ourselves and revel in the moments of celebration. I also want to remind our community that celebrating our history and legacy of brilliance, vibrance and resilience is also a lifelong commitment and an action that extends well beyond the month of June.  

"Joy serves as a radical and transformative tool—one that can be used for self-actualization and for strengthening justice movements. As Audre Lorde says, “The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic or intellectual forms a bridge between the sharers, which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them and lessens the threat of their difference.” How often do we take time to build these bridges of joy, wellness and rest for self and within community? In doing so, we build capacity and renew our energy to sustain justice, equity and inclusionary work.  

"Making time to engage in joyful indulgences such as music, podcasts, dancing, cooking, one-to-one connections, virtual and small in-person community outings, seeking wisdom from elders and peers, is valuable and necessary work! I plan to indulge in joy consistently throughout the year. I will host Pride gatherings with chosen family and friends, over indulge in Beyonce’s Renaissance concert in the fall, schedule mini retreats for myself for solitude and rest, and designate time to express gratitude to the ones that I love dearly. Below, I have curated a list of joyful indulgences that you can join me in doing as well!"

Dr. Paige's joyful indulgence this Pride Season and beyond 

Listening to Dr. Paige’s Spotify Playlist: Liberated Pride & Unapologetic Joy
Listening to The Solidarity Index, a podcast by Zahyr Lauren @Zahyr_theartist_lhaz via Instagram
Reading Inciting Joy Essays by Ross Gay
Reading Rest as Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey @thenapministry via Instagram 

Resources and Renewal to Inclusion 

To show support throughout Pride Month, visit the Office of Diversity and Inclusion where you’ll find inspiring Zoom backgrounds and a range of educational LGBTQIA+ community resources.  

As we honor Pride Month, let us celebrate the enormous contributions of this community. Let us also reaffirm our commitment to work against ongoing hatred and violence against those in the LGBTQIA+ community and to do our part to continuously co-create a welcoming and inclusive experience for all. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023