By Amanda DelgaudioSpecial to the Chronicle
Even as nations worldwide fight over LGBTQ rights and issues, Hofstra’s chapter of The Pride Network continues to support and encourage its members to embrace their identities. October has been a particularly busy time for the Pride Network.
Christian Fuscarino founded The Pride Network in 2008 as a club, and reached out to other universities and communities in Connecticut and New Jersey in efforts to expand. In 2010 The Pride Network offered the first Gay/Straight Alliance Summit, and in 2012 became an independent 501c3 non-profit organization. According to their website, The Pride Network’s mission statement is to create a safe and stronger LGBTQ community on campus. By working with a network of students, faculty, staff and administrators, The Pride Network wants to stop the negative bias and promote solutions that will encourage change.
Amanda Kronemeyer, a junior who has been involved in the Pride Network since freshman year, has been a co-chair for four semesters. Amanda has found a sense of community here on campus from her involvement in The Pride Network and the women’s rugby team.
“A community forms between all clubs,” said Kronemeyer. “We all understand what it’s like to get attendance at events. We all struggle to get money from SGA, so we try to help each other out.” Kronemeyer believes that the Multicultural and International Student Programs (MISPO) and the events that they sponsor respect many groups on campus. She states, “I see organizations like the African Caribbean Society and it shows that segments of the population support these people.”
October is LGBTQ Heritage Month Day, sponsored at Hofstra by MISPO, OSLA and The Division of Student Affairs. Earlier this month on October 11, it was National Coming Out Day, or Jeans Day. Jeans Day is a way to show support for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning individuals. Individuals demonstrated their support by wearing jeans or a jean patch on their clothing. That evening there was a Coming Out Day Workshop led by sophomore Alicia Phillips, who says, “It was a good turn out for an event not advertised. I incorporated a Jeopardy game format of LGBTQ History and it was enjoyable.”
Jeans Day originated with the realization that, when waking up in the morning, people do not think twice about putting on jeans. “By wearing jeans, individuals are unknowingly showing their support for LGBTQ life,” said Kronemeyer. “It’s almost a laugh to the people who think they aren’t supporting it.” It sends a strong message, especially when homophobic people show support without even realizing it. It represents the fact that supporting LGBTQ life should not be a difficult decision; it should be easy as putting on a pair of jeans.
Diva Cohen, a member of The Pride Network, attended the event and felt that “the speakers were driven by passion. The speakers demonstrated that in our nation today, cyber bullying and bullying is at its highest. So is the rate of suicide.” Diva says that in past years, they’ve had a bigger turnout because they had an atrium table to help spread awareness for the event. Anand Patel, a sophomore, attended the event as well and remarked, “It’s good for people to know that it is okay to come out in society.”
As October comes to an end and November is approaching us, there are a few more upcoming and exciting events hosted by OSLA and The Division of Student Affairs. On November 1 from 4-5 p.m. there is a session on how to be an Effective LGBTQ Ally/Advocate. A LGBT Ally is an individual who is a member of the straight community who supports equality for the LGBTQ community.
A showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Student Center Theater is scheduled for November 2 at 8 p.m.
Kronemeyer is in the process of setting up a poetry reading night with the famous poet Andrea Gibson, who is apart of the LGBT community. In addition, beginning on the last week of November and the first week of December, The Hofstra Aids Awareness Coalition begins. It is a week of programming that reaches out to other organizations on campus.
Within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, there is a LGBT studies minor as well as additional courses within the college. Steven D. Smith, associate director of LGBT studies, came to Hofstra University in 2005. “I feel proud to work at a university whose support for the LGBT community has increased steadily since I first came to campus,” said Smith.
The first course in LGBT studies was offered in the fall of 2006, with full enrollment. It is evident that even though support for the LGBT community is spreading and increasing throughout the nation, individuals still suffer from struggles everyday. Smith believes that “Hofstra must keep continue to demonstrate its commitment to supporting the LGBT community in the years to come.”
There have been discussions about a LGBT Center on campus. It is time that these ideas are turned into reality. Smith said, “Our LGBT students and allies should look forward to a time soon when Hofstra has an LGBT Center that is a real, physical space and more than merely conceptual.” Many colleges and universities have these facilities for LGBT students, but Hofstra does not. It is time that the LGBT community has a strong support system that they deserve.
“Hofstra should also renew its commitment to scholarships for its most talented and promising LGBT students,” said Smith. “We should all strive to make Hofstra a shining exemplar for undergraduate LGBT Studies.”