VU Pride panel promotes inclusivity as part of Pride Week



Sarah Harris

It’s okay not to be gay. This was the slogan of Villanova’s Pride Club at the activities fair at the beginning of the semester and throughout the year. It’s okay not to be gay and still be interested in what VU Pride stands for. It’s okay not to be gay and support the LGBTQ+ community. It’s okay not to be gay and still join the club. The club has worked all year to encourage ally involvement. Being an ally means supporting the community as someone outside of the LGBTQ+ community. Their efforts were continued this past week through one of their biggest events of the year. 

“This week was Pride Week,” Public Relations Chair sophomore Liz Gulden said. “The theme of the week wasn’t so much awareness as it was being proud of who you are and proud of your sexuality whether you are gay, straight, bisexual or whatever it is.” 

The week started on Monday April 11 with a Real Talk about what the plus means in “LGBTQ+.” On Tuesday, the group hosted a student panel called “Why I am Proud.”  The panel featured different students expressing why they are proud of who they are. 

“We decided to have a student panel because we thought it would be more relevant to people in the audience,” Gulden said. “We wanted to have a representation of different sexual identities and gender identities because it is important to note that VU Pride isn’t just about sexual identities.”

The panel featured five students in VU Pride that represented different sections of the LGBTQ+ community. As the panelists introduced themselves, they stated their name, their sexual identity and their pronouns. Pronouns are an important element in the LGBTQ+ community because they define someone. As a straight woman, Gulden prefers the pronouns she, her and hers. 

However, others who identify as gender neutral or gender fluid might prefer they, them and theirs. These distinctions are an important part of being sensitive to the identifications of people within the community. The introductions created a new sense of awareness of the complexities within gender and sexual identities. The panel continued with questions from the two emcees followed by audience questions at the end. 

The week finished with free t-shirts by the Oreo on Wednesday, Thursday’s vigil and  moment of silence for everyone who has lost their lives to discrimination and a small march and balloon release on Friday.

The week increased visibility for the club. The executive board of VU Pride hoped to use this as a way to gain more ally support and involvement in the club. 

“Being supportive has a stigma to some degree where people are cautious to associate with a club that is about people who aren’t necessarily considered normal by society,” sophomore Education Chair John Garboski said. “People get worried, because they don’t want to brand themselves that way.”

Garboski and the executive board have worked to provide a more inclusive environment at club meetings and events to encourage people to be more open with their support of the LGBTQ+ community. 

As one of the few allies in the club, Gulden knows how difficult it can be with the stigma around the decision to join the club. 

“The typical misconception is that if you are in the club that means you are not straight and I think that is something that we are trying to get rid of,” Gulden said. 

The VU Pride Club is not just for people in the LGBTQ+ community. They want and need active membership from others in the community. Without a strong ally membership, the club is unable to grow and enact more change on campus and in the greater community. 

The changes are small, such as asking someone’s pronouns when you meet them or asking if someone has a partner rather than a girlfriend or boyfriend. These are small things to combat heteronormativity and embrace the differences of one another. 

VU Pride held its Pride Week to encourage allies to be more expressive with their support of the LGBTQ+ community, to attend meetings and to educate and inspire others to do the same. 

“If you are pro- LGBTQ+ rights, then it is informative to go to a VU Pride meeting and see people who face this or to see people who believe in the same things that you do,” Garboski said.  “You should want to learn and inspire others with what you are passionate about.”