Saint Mary's PRIDE Club continues to connect with students, and provide safe spaces amid social distance semester.
By Riley Mulcahy
Finding community in college can be challenging enough. Add in a global pandemic; it can be difficult for students to find their niche. Luckily, the Saint Mary’s community has the People Rallying for Identity Development Equality, known widely as the PRIDE Club.
The club was formerly known as the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), which according to Publicity and Graphic Design executive member Shanali de Silva, the name change to GSA was to “provide a space for heterosexual students to connect with LGBTQ+ students, both learning about the culture and the people specifically in the hopes of proving that gay people are no different than anyone else. The club changed its name in order to provide a safe way for students who were still in the closet to enter the club, given that at this point in time being gay was still highly stigmatized.”
PRIDE club was founded in 1980’s by Paul Giurlanda, a former brother and gay man. Giurlanda had heard that students wanted a meeting place for LGBTQ+ students. The club’s original name was GALA which stands for the Gay and Lesbian Association. Although the group was founded in the 1980s, it was not until 1994 when Professor Tom Poundstone convinced Saint Mary’s to make it a full club. Before its recognition as a club, meetings took place in Giurlanda’s living room.
The club has had some struggles with adjusting to Zoom; however, PRIDE has continued to come up with fun and engaging activities throughout the semester. One of the aspects that the club misses, according to de Silva, is the ability to have meaningful conversations after the actual meeting has ended, and the snacks have depleted. To remedy that however, executives have created a Discord chat so PRIDE members can connect after meetings. The Discord server has helped with keeping up the connection between members and helps PRIDE fulfill their mission as a welcoming community for all. Reactions to the Zoom activities have been very positive, and students are thankful for the virtual communal space.
PRIDE club strives to make sure that the whole Saint Mary’s community feels safe at their meetings. According to de Silva, the club aims “to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ people to find a community; it also serves as a place for both LGBTQ+ students and allies to learn more about LGBTQ+ history, culture, and issues.” The club meetings vary from educational and informational sessions to more fun gatherings like movie nights to help students relax during a stressful semester.
Although students are wrapping up the fall semester, the PRIDE club has many events planned to engage students before winter break. Opportunities include a Club Penguin meet-up on Tuesday November 17th at 7:00 PM, as well as a fundraiser for Transgender Day of Remembrance Friday, November 20th. Details for both events can be found on their Instagram page.
Get involved with PRIDE!
-Club Penguin Social Meeting 11/17 7 pm
-TDOR fundraiser and Vigil 11/20 7 pm (fundraiser details on Instagram)
-Both can be found on our SPOT and social media!
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Ryan Ford '23,