For many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied community (LGBTQ+), June is a celebratory month. Around the country, cities, towns, and communities come together to celebrate pride month with special events, parades, and gatherings. Following the tragedy in Orlando, FL where members of the LGBTQ+, Latinx, and other communities lost their lives, pride celebrations became an even more important opportunity for our community to gather, support one another, and demonstrate solidarity.
Lehigh’s Alumni Pride Association (LAPA), which provides LGBTQ+ alums an opportunity to stay connected and participate in events at Lehigh and beyond, hosted an alumni gathering on June 23rd in New York City at the start of the city’s pride weekend. Alums from the classes of 1984-2016 were represented among the dozen attendees as they shared stories from their time at Lehigh.
It is always rewarding to hear the stories of alums who came before me, especially those who went to Lehigh when the thought of being out or dating a classmate was taboo and even potentially dangerous. At the same time, meeting younger alums who have always known Lehigh to have resources dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community and student organizations that host programs and educational events, is an exciting way to see how far we’ve come.
Events like those in Orlando are a reminder that there is still much work to be done to create inclusive and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people at Lehigh and beyond. Being part of the community that LAPA helps to foster reminds me that we are on our way and making progress. From the community of support I found during my own time at Lehigh, to the opportunity to return to that community as an alum, the time to celebrate pride and share stories helps us all appreciate the strength of the bonds Lehigh helped us form and look towards the future with hope.