Pride Month, recognized nationally in June, is recognized at NDSU in April. Throughout April, many events celebrate pride and the LGBTQ+ community, hosted by the NDSU LGBTQ+ resource center.
The events are a part of the month’s overall purpose to bring awareness to the marginalized community. “It is important for marginalized communities to be given a platform to bring awareness to issues they are facing,” said the NDSU Pride Alliance President Emma Dodds. Adding, “I also think that there is so much to learn about and celebrate during pride month. For example, the Stonewall Riots.”
“Pride month is more important now than ever since there is so much blatant stigma and bigotry towards the LGBTQIA+ community. It shows that we are here, we have always been part of society,” said NDSU student Camryn Anderson. “It’s a time to talk about all the joyous stories of queerness, as well as shine a spotlight on all of the very real struggles and traumas we face.”
What exactly is pride? For Dodds, it is “living authentically and unapologetically. Being proud and open about my identity can be stressful sometimes, but overall my mental health is better for it.” Similarly, it means “I will not be shamed or ridiculed out of living my life the way it’s supposed to be,” said Anderson.
However, “I think some people associate pride with hubris or bragging,” said Dodds. “When the LGBTQ+ community talks about our pride, it is often with the same intentions as somebody displaying ‘Bison Pride.’”
Anderson, who started using a “they” pronoun at the beginning of college, describes it as feeling “like it fits me. I remember the first time my boss referred to me as “they,” I felt happy and seen; it’s a feeling I can’t quite describe.
Although Pride month is temporary, there are long-term resources at NDSU for the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Alliance meets weekly and for Anderson, “I remember feeling so free, like I was finally unshackled and I didn’t have to hide anything anymore.” Saying, “I met people who are now my best friends in Pride Alliance, and it was probably the best decision I’ve made.”
Pride Month, like similar observations, recognizes the struggles that the LGBTQ+ community faces. “Often times people find ways to gloss over my identity or sidestep it if it comes up in conversation,” said Dodds. “Of course, I don’t want my bisexuality to be the only thing people see me as, but I do wish it was talked about as freely as it would be if I was straight.”
Particularly in a place such as North Dakota, the LGBTQ+ community faces additional hardships. “Frightening” is how Dodds describes it. “Depending on your identity, you may feel the need to have an escape plan.”
“Some legislators are okay with the fact that they don’t want LGBTQ+ people to be able to live comfortably in North Dakota. Bills like the recently vetoed SB 2231 attempt to restrict the free speech of teachers and state employees.” Dodds says, “as the daughter of a teacher and as a future educator myself, I am well aware of the challenges faced by today’s American teachers. Policing the pronouns students use is an unnecessary additional burden to place on school staff.”
Growing up in rural Minnesota, Anderson says, “I was called derogatory terms before I even fully knew I was queer. I knew I would never be safe if I came out in high school.”
In spite of these larger issues, there are simple, common everyday ways to support the LGBTQ+. “Having people in my daily life who acknowledge the many facets of who I am, allows me to live without the constant fear of rejection,” said Dodds.