The month of June brings in LGBTQ Pride Month and East Carolina University students, faculty and staff are celebrating the 50 Anniversary since the riots in Greenwich Village.
Mark Rasdorf, the senior associate director for the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center in the Main Campus Student Center, said the office serves as a resource for further education and social center for the entire campus. The center serves all students, faculty, staff, prospective students and their families and alumni.
“June is historical because in 1969 patrons a gay bar in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, decided they were done with the frequent harassment from police and started fighting back which caused riots there for a couple of days,” Rasdorf said. “And that is thought as the first modern fight for LGBTQ rights in our country.”
This year, in particular, Rasdorf said marks the Stonewall’s 50th anniversary since the riots in Greenwich Village and a march in New York City will be hosted on June 30. This is where millions of the LGBTQ community and its supporters march to commemorate the movement.
“I think, as it is true for other marginalized and oppressed communities, it’s important every day to fight for equity and equality, but it’s also nice to have a time set aside to have the spotlight during this period of time,” Rasdorf said.
Tegan Stooksbury, a junior art major and President of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) on campus, gave a statement to The East Carolinian regarding LGBTQ Pride Month.
“I think Pride Month itself serves as a celebration of what we’ve accomplished as a community over the decades and as a celebration of the people in our community. It also serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go in terms of our rights and acceptance,” Stooksbury said.
As for campus life, Stooksbury said that the LGBTQ community here is represented well especially with the opening last year of the Peel LGBTQ Center on main campus.
“I feel that our campus does a good job with representation, and I generally feel safe and included on campus,” Stooksbury said. “I really do appreciate how inclusive a lot of the staff are too.”
Connor Ward, a sophomore nursing major at ECU, serves as SAGA’s vice president. He said, in regards to our current president, Donald Trump, and his administration, that they are “trying to actively take away the rights” of the LGBTQ community. He said it’s “hurtful” especially since the community has only been able to get married legally for four years.
“It puts it into perspective that the fight is not over and there will always be people trying to take your rights away which makes it more important now to have pride,” Ward said.
Ward said he is planning a trip to the beach with his friends to celebrate pride by being together and will hopefully attend the anniversary march in New York. Last year, he said he went with SAGA to the pride march in Durham, North Carolina, which happens each year in September and has organization participation by SAGA.
“With the passing of the American Equality Act of 2015, and we as a group have really progressed and become visible, but I don’t think we should take that and become complacent, I think there’s always areas for improvement,” Ward said.
North Carolina’s Governor, Roy Cooper, released a proclamation on June 6 recognizing LGBTQ Pride Month in North Carolina and that the state “stands with the LGBTQ community in the struggle to ensure treatment for all.”
The proclamation from the governor said, despite the community’s progress, LGBTQ Americans still face discrimination today for being themselves.
The Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center is open throughout the year and has a mass calendar of events, Rasdorf said. Rasdorf said the center does participate in new student orientation and there will be a welcome social at the beginning of the fall going on Aug. 29. One of the main events the center plans for is National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 at the Cupola on ECU’s main campus.
For more information on the Peel LGBTQ Center as well as resources and programs, check out their website.