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A Month of Pride

June 15, 2022 | Institute for the Arts and Humanities

June is Pride Month, celebrating and recognizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual people. In marking the month, the IAH joins those across the world who are allied in creating and sustaining inclusive communities that affirm the rights and identities of LGBTQIA people.

The first Pride marches, now a mainstay of the monthly observance, were held in New York City in response and recognition of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, where LGBTQ+ people organized against the systemic harassment of employees and regulars of the popular Stonewall bar.

Contemporary society has made progress toward equality since 1969. However, there is much more work to be done. Former Carolina political science professor and 2005 IAH Faculty Fellow Andy Reynolds drives this point home in his 2018 book, The Children of Harvey Milk. “At the beginning of 2018,” he writes, “1.1 billion people live in the two dozen countries where gay marriage is legal.” At the same time, however, “nearly three billion people live in countries where just being gay is a crime.”

Across the United States and other places in the world, recent legislation has targeted transgender people, who are more likely than other groups to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. In a 2021 survey conducted by The Trevor Project, more than half of the transgender and nonbinary youth considered suicide compared to 32% of cisgender surveyed teens and young adults. The same survey indicated that support – including respecting their pronouns – lowered rates of attempting suicide.

The IAH is helping to lead efforts to build a better and more inclusive Carolina and world through our mission of empowering faculty. Our intent is to cultivate a culture of belonging through the programs and initiatives that we advance, advocate, and amplify. Our campus partners, such as the LGBTQ Center and the University Libraries are two units with excellent examples of the kind of work we amplify. The LGBTQ Center offers resources for faculty, staff, students and community members of the LGBTQ+ community. This includes Safe Zone Training, which creates a network of visible allies to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.

The University Libraries is hosting “Queerolina,” an exhibit that includes oral histories of LGBTQ people connected to the Carolina community. The exhibit, developed in spring 2022 by Cassie Tanks and Hooper Schultz, was a partnership of University Archives and the Southern Oral History Program with the Carolina Pride Alum Network.

At the Institute, we are committed to building community, which can only be achieved through inclusion and equity. It is not enough to merely welcome people into our spaces, but to ensure that everyone feels affirmed, included and valued as equal partners in the work we do.