PRIDE! Kent reflects on 45th anniversary

Nichola Nease

PRIDE! Kent held its 45th anniversary celebration on Thursday in the Student Center Governance Chamber. In the form of a holiday gathering, the event provided the organization’s members an opportunity to reflect on how far they’ve come since 1971.

Kasey Willener, a junior history major and vice president of PRIDE!, said the acronym stands for People Respecting Identity Diversity and Equality.
“In standing with that, we’re trying to be an open and safe space for everyone,” Willener said.
He explained that many of the members fall into numerous groups beyond their sexual and gender identities — such as nationality and religion — and wants everyone to feel welcome.
“Right now there is a changing attitude towards the LGBT community … People are scared,” Willener said in regards to the current state of the political climate. “(There’s) almost more of a need for it now than ever before.”
Miranda Roberts, a sophomore American Sign Language interpretation major, explained that being a member of PRIDE! has become important to her. The organization’s members provide her with a support group, she said, and are very accepting.
Roberts said one of her favorite parts of PRIDE! is the presentations they put on about different LGBTQ topics, such as bisexuality and safe sex.
She said she learned she was demi-sexual and demi-romantic during a presentation on asexuality, and is happy that PRIDE! helped her to learn that about herself.
Roberts also said she enjoyed meetings in which members would share their coming-out stories to each other.
Looking back, Gabrielle Cooper, a senior human development and family services major and president of PRIDE!, said she is pleased with how far PRIDE! has come.  
“It’s my first year of being president and I’m really satisfied with how PRIDE! is going to be able to celebrate 45 years as an LGBTQ organization,” Cooper said. “It’s phenomenal because we face so much adversity, showing that we are strong and that we remain unified as a community.”
Nichola Nease is a diversity reporter, contact her at [email protected].