Pride Month educates about LGBT people, GSD issues

Blake Faith, Contributing Writer

Every year in the month of June, the U.S. celebrates LGBT Pride Month to remember and honor the Stonewall Riots in Manhattan in 1969, according to the Library of Congress.

Since 2009, Jessica Ward, director of Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity, said the center has moved Eastern’s Pride Month from June to April since it is the last full month that students are at the school.

This year’s focus on Pride Month was to provide training and events that promote LGBT education and awareness. Ward said she believes that it is important to educate people in the community about LGBT people and GSD issues.

She said the members of Eastern’s GSD (LGBTQ+) community have events that they can attend and that community members should come out as well to support them.

On April 12, the center for GSD demonstrated a silence vigil for the National Day of Silence.

People who participated at the Doudna Steps were encouraged to write names of members of the GSD community who have been critically injured or killed for their GSD identities; there were over 700 names written in chalk by the end, Ward said.

“This event is really important to put people’s name out there,” Ward said. “Unfortunately, people have been killed due to their identity in the GSD community. Those people were living, breathing people, and those people had family members who loved them. This event is the most powerful one of this month.”

The Student Drag Show is a show led and organized by students that has grown every semester since its debut just a few years ago, she said.

The GSD also offers two Safe Zone Core open sessions in which there are two hours of foundational training. These trainings are geared to “help people understand terminology consisting of privilege, heterosexuality, homosexuality and transexuality,” Ward said.

There is one more left students can attend on Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Martinsville Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

There are other 50-minute informational sessions remaining. There is one Wednesday in the Martinsville Room of the Union called Safe Zone Brownbag—Queering Faith: The Bible. When it comes to this session, “this event will break down bible verses and how the words have been changed throughout time,” Ward said.

Everyone, despite gender identity or sexual orientation, should come to the Pride Month events because everyone stands to benefit from the educational value, she said.

“I think that no matter who you are, going to any of these events will help educate you,”

Ward said. “I think as far as straight, gay, black, white friends, whatever kind of friend, that it doesn’t matter and that we should be advocates for each other. Even if going in that space is uncomfortable, that’s probably what we need to do.”

Ward said the center for GSD’s goal is to impact the Charleston and Eastern communities that Pride Month is not just the month of April; it is something people should think about all year.

More information about Pride Month and events upcoming events can be found at

Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].