The Kent State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Plus Center celebrates the LGBTQ+ community year-round, but the month of June has a special meaning.
June is home to Pride Month which honors the 1969 Stonewall Riots that occurred in Manhattan, New York. As a result of Stonewall, pride events and celebrations are held throughout the month to recognize the impact that the LGBTQ+ community has had throughout the world.
Ken Ditlevson, director of the LGBTQ+ Center, explained that Pride Month is a time to celebrate what happened over 50 years ago in Manhattan.
“The Stonewall Riots were seen as the pivotal moment of fighting for LGBTQ+ equality and was a victorious moment that we have built from,” Ditlevson said. The center incorporates the history of Stonewall and other pivotal pieces of history into the center’s events like Film Fridays.
The LGBTQ+ Center conducts events and programming each semester that are focused on educating students about different topics and also supporting them through different experiences. They also provide a Safe Space Ally Training which aims to equip students, faculty and staff with the tools for creating safe and welcoming spaces for the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
Ditlevson also joins in on pride events during June and sees it as a time for people to be their most authentic selves while being surrounded by a community that is fighting for equality.
“As a gay man, pride month has always been the highlight of the year that I look forward to,” Ditlevson said.
This upcoming August, the LGBTQ+ Center will be providing transportation to the Akron Pride Festival on Aug. 28.
Mya Taylor, current intern at the LGBTQ+ Center and Kent State student, views Pride Month as a milestone in history. “It is a symbol of how far we have come as people to be able to be queer in a society that is heteronormative,” Taylor said.
Taylor finds hope when looking back on those involved with Stonewall. “I do believe society will get better because as seen with Marsha P. Johnson, it only takes one person to make a change,” she said.
Marsha P. Johnson was known to be a notable figure associated with the Stonewall uprising in 1969.
Lo Denmon, assistant director of the LGBTQ+ Center, recognizes Pride Month is a time to build community and to find the people who will support you.
“Pride Month is a good time to find community especially in places where you do not expect it,” Denmon said. In terms of being an employee at the LGBTQ+ Center, they see this month as an opportunity to help and support students in being their authentic selves.
“I have an opportunity to show support to students and let them know that we have their back but that we also are committed to their success here at Kent State and beyond,” Denmon said.
Ditlevson expressed that being a part of the center allows him the chance to help students and others who are a part of the community become involved in pride events. “It’s really incredible to help facilitate people who have never gone to a celebration or for those who have but recently moved here and need help locating one,” Ditlevson said.
For more information, contact Kent State’s LGBTQ+ Center at 330-672-8580.
Izzy Stewart is a crisis and recovery reporter. Contact them at email@example.com.