The EWU Pride Center Increases Visibility through Hosting of ‘Second Pride Month’

By Cannon Barnett, Reporter

While June is what many think of when they hear the term “Pride month”, Eastern Washington University Pride Center embraces October as well as a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ diversity on campus.

As the number of people identifying as LGBTQ+ in America rises to unprecedented levels – 7.1% of the population according to a 2022 Gallup poll, organizations such as Pride Centers on college campuses see it as increasingly important to be able to support and educate students and staff. This is the goal of EWU’s Pride Center as well. The Easterner spoke with Program Coordinator and Student Advisor Maggie Harty from the Pride Center about the significance of holding a month’s worth of Pride-related programming in October.

For a decade now, the Pride Center has been hosting events throughout the month of October as a second, “EWU Pride Month.”

“I think we get stuck sometimes as a Queer community, where June is the month, and it is when all the things are happening, and then… there’s not a lot going on the rest of the year,” Harty said as one reason for celebrating in October.

Furthermore, October is LGBTQ+ history month and generally tends to have the most student engagement for on-campus events.

“Fall Quarter is the best time to do things because students are back on campus. They’re excited. They’re energetic. And then once you get into winter and spring quarter they’re kind of tired,” Harty said.

The Pride Center aims to take advantage of the higher levels of student engagement in order to make it known to people that the Center is a resource available to them.

“There is the fun and the excitement of [the events], but underneath I just want to know students. I want them to know me, ” Harty said. “Ninety percent of my job is talking with students, interacting with them, and connecting them to outside resources.”

Blake Yacker, a member of the Pride Club at EWU also commented on the importance of early, visible events for new students.

“[EWU Pride Month Events are] a great resource for Queer people who don’t have a huge knowledge of the local community to connect with,” he said.

The non-LGBTQ+ community on campus is also welcome to participate in any of the events held by the Pride Center. Larger events such as the “Pride Month Kickoff” held Oct, 3 in the campus mall are aimed at attracting the attention of all students, staff and faculty.

“Everybody on campus is walking that time of day, so everybody is going to look at [the event], and maybe people will stop, and maybe people will ask questions, but at the very least they’ll know we’re here,” Harty said of the visibility of the kickoff event. “That’s the starting point. Let’s make them aware, and then maybe they’re curious, and maybe they want to learn.”

The greater awareness of the LGBTQ+ community within the larger population that occurs with these events helps to foster feelings of safety for some, according to Pride Club President Sonia Soto.

“With these events being more public I’m not really scared of people knowing my identity. I can say, ‘I’ve got back up, I’ve got the Pride Center,’” they said.

Overall, Harty emphasized that everybody from all backgrounds is welcome to the Pride Center, whether they are searching for community, guidance or answers to questions about a community they have little knowledge of.

“We’d love to see more people!” Harty said.

Remaining Eagle Pride Month events include:

10/19 – Advocate Training, 12-1PM, PUB 321/23

10/19 – “Gayme Night”, 4-6PM, Pride Center

10/27 – Pride Month Costume Party, 6-8PM, Multi-cultural Center