Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Celebrating SEMO’s LGBTQ+ Students, Faculty, Staff and Allies

Friday, August 27, 2021
Southeast students wave flags while posing for a photo at the LGBTQ+ and ally picnic on Aug. 25 at the Academic Terraces. Pride flags representing many different identities within the LGBTQ+ community were available at the picnic.
Photo by Emma Kratky

The sweltering 92-degree heat did not stop students and staff from attending the annual LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) Ally Picnic, hosted by the LGBTQ+ Resource Center Aug. 25 at the Academic Terraces. The picnic was hosted from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event was an opportunity for LGBTQ+ students and allies to eat food, share stories and build community. The attendees consisted of mostly returning students, as well as faculty and staff, but there were a few new faces. Returning PRIDE club members checked in with first-time attendees to ensure they had a good experience.

Senior Rachel Davis discussed the importance of the event on a personal level.

“For me being from St. Louis, there’s not a lot of people who … are out in the community, so it was a big shock for me to come down to SEMO and meet all these people,” she said. “One of my friends I met freshman year was actually who got me involved, and I've been going [to PRIDE Club] ever since.”

The PRIDE Club, which stands for Peers Reinforcing Individual Diversity through Education, provides an opportunity for LGBTQ+ students and allies to gather and enjoy a welcoming environment to hang out and build community. Meetings are held Thursdays from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Center for Student Involvement, located on the second floor of the University Center.

In addition to the PRIDE Club, Southeast also has an LGBTQ+ Resource Center located in Room 204 of the Center for Student Involvement. According to the university’s website, the center aims to “provide a comfortable and confidential environment for LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff, or allies” and “works to increase LGBTQ+ awareness,” creating programs and events to “assist and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community on campus.”

Although Southeast has many resources and a welcoming LGBTQ+ community, picnic attendees still desire more progress in how the university supports LGBTQ+ students.

“I feel like the PRIDE Club is severely underfunded. … I used to go there for a while, and they don’t have much money, and … I know a lot of it might be spent out-of-pocket, as well,” junior Joey O’Driscoll said.

O’Driscoll also mentioned their concerns about gender-neutral restroom facilities and residence halls.

“[We need] more gender-neutral bathrooms,” they said. “There’s only a few on campus. … And maybe more access to [queer housing]. In Vandiver, we are stuck living on gendered floors that we personally don’t feel aligned with. It’d be nice to have one in Towers or somewhere cheaper, as well.”

For more information about gender-neutral housing at Southeast, visit here, and for a map of gender-neutral restrooms on campus, visit here.

“My old school had a trans club. I want that here,” senior Sage Chiles said.

Davis also had some thoughts on what Southeast could do to extend the reach of the PRIDE Club.

“Having more [events] to get it out there and letting people know who don’t know about PRIDE that we have it on campus. If my friend hadn’t brought me here, I would not have known that any of this existed,” Davis said.

For Southeast students and staff who are not a part of the PRIDE Club or the LGBTQ+ community there are still many ways to be a good ally.

“It sounds really cliché, but just to be a good listener, whether it’s your friend or somebody you don’t know … and if they need someone to rant to, to talk to, be there. Be that person,” Davis said. “But the other thing that I would say is be respectful to everybody ... because you don’t know what someone is going through and how they’re feeling about things.”

For more resources, email lgbt@semo.edu or visit the LGBTQ+ resources website. This event was also sponsored by the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity; for more information and resources about this organization, click here.

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