by Catherine Brewer ’20
“We need to educate this campus before we do anything else,” expressed Magnoly Maria ’19 of the mission behind PC’s Proud, a celebratory and educational week of events promoting LGBTQ+ support at Providence College. On Thursday, April 12, students gathered in McPhail’s at 5:30 p.m. for Tell Your Story, the culmination of the collaborative planning effort of the Board of Programmers (BOP) and SHEPARD. The campus hub was decorated with everything rainbow, from balloons to confetti, and students and faculty gathered with anticipation.
Tell Your Story offered a safe space for those who identify as LGBTQ+ and their allies to share their personal narratives about challenges they have faced as members of the community. To ensure that all voices were represented, BOP and SHEPARD had options: those interested in sharing their story could hop on stage and share it with the crowd, or they could submit it online for someone else to read, whether that be done with a name attached to it or anonymously.
Maria, a member of BOP and the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs (BMSA), explained that preparations for the event began long before the bulletin board debate of last month. At the beginning of the year, the BOP Diversity Committee decided that they wanted to plan an event surrounding the LGBTQ+ community because they felt that it was lacking support and inclusion on campus. “Their stories have been out there, but they’ve been pushed aside for a really long time,” Maria explained. Beginning with their hope to make campus feel more like home for students of marginalized communities, PC’s Proud developed over time and with immense passion.
“I feel that this event definitely is a good way to sum up the march,” expressed SHEPARD’s treasurer Sarah Kane ’19 in light of last month’s LGBTQ+ solidarity march. Kane explained that while the story submissions had been trickling in slowly, a flood of them were sent in on Wednesday night, lifting a weight off of the planning committee’s shoulders. Prior to the event, Kane was most excited for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to be brought together by storytelling in a healthy and supported way.
Keysha Rodriguez ’19, an ally at the event, explained that she felt fostering an inclusive community on campus was a prevalent and pressing issue. “These events allow the campus to see that people are here and deserve respect,” stated Rodriguez as she cut a rainbow-colored ribbon that would soon be folded to create pride pins. In her opinion, exclusion has resulted from a lack of conversation and education, and events like Tell Your Story help to “get the ball rolling.”
According to Kane, the next event that SHEPARD is helping to plan is CarnivALL. This celebration of all identities is set to take place on May 4 from 4 to 8 p.m., and the community can look forward to inflatables, food trucks, and much more.