GVSU Community Members Recognize Pride Month
Pride Month may be coming to a close, but the work that members of the LGBTQIA+ community at Grand Valley are doing to create a welcoming and inclusive environment is present year-round.
Students and staff members' efforts have led to impactful programs. The Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center hosts groups such as Colors of Pride, a weekly program for LGBTQIA+ students of color, and Queer Connections, a mentoring program designed to match LGBTQIA+ students with mentors who are LGBTQIA+ faculty, staff or graduate students.
These impactful community members have donated their time to support the LGBTQIA+ community at GVSU.
From being an RA to presenting at the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference, Waverly Eubank has had a positive impact on the campus community.
Having intersecting identities as a Black, queer person, Eubank said she was unsure of where she fit in. “I kind of felt at first that I had the choice of ‘Do I want to connect with other Black students on campus’ or ‘Do I want to connect with other queer students on campus?’” she said.
Eubank, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in public administration, describes her initial experience as a first-year student as a time of self discovery. She said finding people with shared unique experiences through programs such as Colors of Pride has created a space for her to feel seen and understood.
Because of that initial isolating feeling, Eubank has made a point to be visible about her identity in her position as an RA on campus. Her advice to first-year students, “Be on the lookout for people you know you can be safe with.” She noted that the first year on campus can be an intimidating time for many, but finding community through LGBTQIA+ organizations on campus can help ease the transition.
Meg Marshall is an academic and enrichment advisor at the Frederik Meijer Honors College and a member of the LGBT Faculty Staff Association.
The FSA works to have queer representation throughout campus not only for students, but for other faculty and staff members as well. Educating vendors and the community on things such as proper pronoun and name utilization is “life-saving work,” Marshall stated.
They also work with groups such as health care professionals on campus to ensure they are culturally competent in order to provide quality service to people from all walks of life.
Through the FSA and its ties with the LGBT Resource Center, Marshall also serves as a mentor through the center’s Queer Connections program.
They explained the impact that program can have on first-year students.
“It’s the first time that they’ve maybe had access to a queer adult who is willing to share their life in an authentic way,” Marshall said. “These life transitions may not be easy, but college offers each of us an opportunity to continue to grow in depth both in who we are and who we can be."
Pride Month can mean something different to everybody. To Marshall and Eubank, it serves as a time to celebrate and reflect on how far the country has come in regards to LGBTQIA+ rights.
“Our Pride movement is the result of the trans and non-binary people of color who led the way in our push for being recognized as humans,” said Marshall.
Eubank said, “Now is a time to give thanks to the people who came before me, and to also show the people who will come after me that it is OK to be who you are.”