Pride Week: spreading the love, support and inclusivity

St. Thomas University celebrated its third annual Pride Week from Sept. 17 to Sept. 21.

The STU pride committee received approximately $850 in donations from the university to help host and organize events.

On Sept. 17, the opening reception and flag raising kicked off the week. LGBTQ students, faculty, staff and allies were welcome to celebrate.

Veronica Nugent, a fourth-year fine arts major and chair of the STU pride committee, raised the flag. As she did, a rainbow formed across the sky.

“I put the flag up that night because it’s important to show during pride week, a visible symbol that STU is [supportive],” she said.

That evening third-year gender studies student, Jacob Roy, received the Dr. Erin Fredericks community hero award for his activism for the transgender community.

Jacob Roy was awarded the Dr. Erin Fredericks community hero award for his activism for the transgender community. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

Roy said receiving the award is humbling, but he must recognize those who came before him and have made his activism possible. He is working toward inclusion for LGBTQ students in academia.

“Without their bravery, ambition, and in many cases, the loss of their lives, I would not be able to be an openly visible transgender man fighting for the inclusion of trans and queer people within academia.”

On Sept. 18, students gathered on the lawn outside James Dunn Hall. Pizza, fruit, vegetables and other snacks were available to students sitting together in the grass.

“I think the pizza was gone in five minutes, and we had six party pizzas,” Nugent laughed.

The Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre hosted a consent and relationships workshop in George Martin Hall on Sept. 19. Students discussed sexuality, healthy relationships and boundaries within the LGBTQ community. This was a new addition to the traditional pride week events at STU.

On Sept. 20, a coffee house was hosted in Ted Daigle Auditorium. The event showcased various acts, including musical performances and spoken word poetry.

Gabby Fournier, the coordinator of the coffee house, said the event is a great place for LGBTQ students to find their community.

“Performing in pride coffee houses is really special for me because so many of the people there are the reason I was able to figure out my own identity and to put myself on stage,” they said in a Facebook message.

Lola Toner believes pride week is a time to support those who are questioning their identity. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

Lola Toner, a second-year English major, who attended the event, believes pride week is all about visibility and helping those who are struggling with their identities.

“For those of us who are confident in our identities, we have to stick up for [those who aren’t], you know? We have to make sure that they know they’re loved and that they have friends and support,” she said.

Jo Green thinks pride week offers LGBTQ students resources. (Haley Stairs/AQ)

Jo Green, a first-year student commends STU for its inclusivity.

“STU originally was an all-boys Catholic school and to see them [do a] 180 and really become an inclusive and accepting community, especially by having its own pride week . . . right after welcome week so students can start finding resources on campus for themselves, especially if they are questioning, is really important,” said Green.

Students were encouraged to write letters of action to local politicians. (Young Joo Jun/AQ)

The week concluded with a new event: letters of encouragement and action. Students were encouraged to bring any letters they wished to send to local politicians about LGBTQ issues, or anything else they’d like.

There was also a petition for students to sign, calling for the ban of conversion therapy in New Brunswick. The STU pride committee is also submitting two letters to the provincial government about this issue, as well as asking to lift the one-year blood-ban for gay and bisexual men.

The petition got 75 signatures.

Rhys Dixon, a second-year human rights major, was one of them.

“No matter whether you are facing these problems or not, everyone deserves to be fought for.”

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