GVSU Set to be Institution-Wide Sponsor at Grand Rapids & Holland Pride Festivals

Grand Valley will be an institution-wide sponsor at the Holland and Grand Rapids Pride Festivals this year. These sponsorships are the result of a collaboration across multiple departments, including the LGBT Alumni network, Admissions and Recruitment, Inclusion and Equity, and the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center. 

“There was elation in seeing this collaboration bring about real-time action and support,” said DL McKinney, director of the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center. “We all live in the communities we are supporting. This is more than just something we are engaging with during work hours.”

To Lex Larkspur, a student employee at the LGBT Resource Center, the sponsorships show Grand Valley is putting in the work to build a culture of educational equity.

“For a lot of young people going to Pride, they’re looking for pillars in the community who are vocally showing their support,” Larkspur said. “These students are stepping into a university, starting their adulthood; finally getting a chance to express themselves and experiment. I think Grand Valley being supportive – loudly, proudly – is really, really important, especially for those students. It shows that people like us make it.” 

Buttons with various pride flags sit in a pile, all reading GVSU.

Grand Rapids’ Pride Festival will take place on Saturday, June 17 at Calder Plaza. Holland’s Pride Festival will take place the following Saturday, on June 24 at Centennial Park. Both events are free and open to all ages. 

The LGBT Resource Center offers programming and events year-round, including seven student organizations that meet weekly. One is Colors of Pride, co-facilitated by Larkspur, which focuses on the unique experience of LGBTQ people of color. The group does a mix of “social justice, arts and crafts,” and other activities each meeting, while giving its members the chance to build community and strengthen connections to one another. 

“As a resource center, we have a responsibility to provide spaces for learners that promote community building, advocacy, and active educational opportunities,” McKinney said. “We don’t want our time spent at Pride to end this month. We value the voices and experiences of everyone around us and hope that folks continue to engage with our center and other departments.”

For Larkspur, the presence of a visible LGBTQ community on campus was one of the reasons she chose to attend Grand Valley.

“It’s not just people who are whispering their support in the shadows,” she said. “We can actually hang up flags in the outside windows of Kirkhof Center. If you’re looking for a college that is very supportive, that is literally here at Pride, like, here we are.”