In honor of National Coming Out Day, Lehigh hosted its first-ever Pride Walk in an effort to support the LGBT community.
Lehigh’s Pride Center sponsored the walk with the help of Lehigh’s Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, as well as the Office of Gender Violence Education and Support and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. There was food, pamphlets and gay pride pins to help generate excitement for the event.
Madison McGahan, ’15, the president of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, organized the event as a part of an internship with the offices.
The walk is just one of many LGBT-focused events throughout October, which is LGBT History Month on campus. Although Lehigh has honored LGBT History Month in the past, the Pride Center is working hard this year to generate more support for the events.
Members of various student groups and organizations gathered together to sign the “pride flag” on the University Center front lawn. By signing their names on the flag, students demonstrated their support for the LGBT community on campus.
Halli Sigel, ’16, a member of Lehigh’s Panhellenic Council, said she attended the event because she believes Lehigh as a whole needs to be a more inclusive community.
“I strongly believe everyone needs to feel comfortable in our community, and I think it was great that a lot of Greek and other organizations on campus came together to support a really great cause,” Sigel said.
McGahan said she promoted the Pride Walk through Lehigh’s Panhellenic Council, social media such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as the other organizations on campus that helped sponsor the event.
McGahan is an intern for Brooke DeSipio, the director of the Office of Gender Violence Education and Support. DeSipio said it was great seeing people on a Friday afternoon supporting the LGBT community on campus, particularly the Greek community.
“This is the first time we have done an event like this,” DeSipio said. “Kudos to Madison for using her leadership ability on campus to make it a success and encourage students throughout the month of October to come to events.”
DeSipio said that the funding for the Pride Walk came from McGahan’s internship budget and that DeSipio’s office helped with the logistical, organizational and advertising aspects of the event.
McGahan put up posters and flyers in the Women’s Center and the University Center to promote the event.
To improve the event for next year, as well as the upcoming events for LGBT History Month, McGahan plans to attend more meetings with different organizations around campus to generate support and encourage more people to come. She said she hopes the organizers of the 2015 Pride Walk will start planning the event earlier to get more sponsors from student organizations rather than from departments.
Overall, McGahan said the Pride Walk was a success. Although it was only the first year the event was held, students and faculty were eager to come out and support the cause.
“I hope it opens up room for conversations in support of the LGBT community,” McGahan said. “I hope that the Pride Walk continues to grow each year.”