Francesca Fontanez

The University of New Haven campus was beaming with awareness, pride, and all the colors of the rainbow this week of Feb. 15 through Feb. 19 due to the Spring 2016 semester official PRIDE Week.

People Rejoicing In Diversity Everywhere, known commonly as PRIDE, is an organization that was created “to encourage acceptance within the diverse population of our university, promote pride in our community, create a safe and nurturing environment for all University of New Haven students, and educate the university community.”

PRIDE aims to acknowledge the trials and tribulations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. (LGBT+) community. This organization also serves as a safe-haven for not only students who are questioning their sexuality, or sexuality in general, but also for straight ally students who hope to support acceptance and celebration of individuality and the freedom of self expression.

As for the happenings of PRIDE Week, the events played out as follows: Monday represented the popular hashtag, “Man Candy Monday,” to highlight the gay community. Tuesday was “Ace Day: Netflix and Just Chill,” as a dig towards the innuendo of “Netflix and Chill” (to highlight the Asexual community.) Wednesday was “Woman Crush Wednesday” to feature the lesbian community, where the most “liked” woman crush on the PRIDE Instagram account was awarded a Starbucks gift-card. On Thursday, PRIDE held their annual Transition Yard Sale in which the organization sells donated clothing items for prices of $1.00 or less to anyone who attends. This was a way to not only raise money to help various LGBT+ communities, but also to provide an affordable wardrobe those in the midst of transitioning to a more comfortable version of themselves. Finally, Friday was set aside to notice the Bisexual, Demisexual, and Pansexual Community, which was done through yet another cleverly titled fundraiser, PRIDE’s “Bi-Dem-Pan-cakes.”

Numerous members of PRIDE praised the Spring 2016 PRIDE Week committee head, Mary Marena, on a wonderful job of creating original, inclusive, and educational programs/events.

In regards to the significance of PRIDE hosting PRIDE Weeks, Mark Garner, a two-year member of PRIDE, explained that understanding differences is extremely important, especially to those from communities lesser known of.

“It helps provide everyone on campus awareness of exactly what the different sexualities are, and how they identify, and also as far as what to call [members of different populations]” regarding gender-neutral pronouns.

He explained that certain pronouns could be quite important to a lot of people’s view of self, and personal sense of character.

Though PRIDE Week may be over, this colorful organization’s work is far from done. The message of acceptance, education, and love will continue to be spread throughout the UNH community thanks to ever-growing PRIDE. Though sexuality plays a large role in this organization’s premise, PRIDE member Samantha Paquette put it excellently when she wrote that the whole basis of PRIDE is “to be happy with who you are and accepting of everyone else, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”