Swarthmore Celebrates Pride Month, Creating Space for our LGBTQ+ Community

Swarthmore’s Pride Month, a time dedicated to the acknowledgment and celebration of Swat’s LGBTQ+ community, is currently underway. 

This year, from October 11 to November 20 — National Coming Out Day and Transgender Day of Rememberance, respectively — is recognized as Swarthmore’s Pride Month. The nationally recognized Pride Month takes place in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. 

Swarthmore saw its first Pride Month in 2013, and the LGBTQ+ community was first formally celebrated with “Coming Out Week” in 1995, according to The Phoenix.

The month is organized and facilitated by the Pride Planning Committee, a group affiliated with the Intercultural Center. Twenty members make up the committee, and all students can apply to be a member, regardless of class year, gender, or sexual orientation. 

Many of the more popular events from previous years’ Pride Months have been brought back for this year, including Glitter Bomb Pub Nite, Sex Toy Bingo, and the Black Girl Magic Drag Show. However, this year’s Pride Month differs slightly from last year’s in that there are fewer events overall, but more events that focus on incorporating various intersecting identities and communities. 

Tiffany Thompson, associate director of gender and sexuality initiatives, program manager of the Women’s Resource Center, and an advisor to the Pride Planning Committee, described this year’s focus on including intersecting identities in the Pride Month programming. 

“This year we are offering programming that integrates identity and community. In collaboration with the Interfaith Center, we will welcome queer identified Rabbi Ari Lev to faciliate a conversation about faith and sexuality.  There will also be a panel of queer and trans activists from Philly talking about the challenges that LGBTQ+ folks of color are facing and how everyone can play a part in supporting the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community. Even though the focus is on people of color, the event is open to everyone,” she wrote in an email to The Phoenix.  

Rabbi Ari Lev will be on campus Friday, November 8 and the LGBTQ+ Activism for POC in Philly panel will take place Thursday, November 10. 

Thompson also commented on the overall goal of Swarthmore’s Pride Month, describing it as a time to increase visibility for the LGBTQ+ community and allow them to celebrate their identities. 

“The goal of Pride Month is to first allow the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate and socialize with their queer and trans peers and allies.  The second goal of Pride Month is to bring visibility and awareness to Swarthmore’s campus,” she wrote.

Chase Smith ’22, a member of the Pride Planning Committee, an Intercultural Center Fellow, and a Diversity Peer Advisor, expanded on Thompson’s sentiment, adding that Pride Month at Swarthmore is especially important for LGBTQ+ students who have not been a part of an accepting environment in the past. 

“I think what it is trying to do is allow for students, especially students who have not had any sort of inclusive environment where they’re from or from their families, to be able to celebrate their identity and be as queer as they want to be. For me, Pride Month gave me the space for my identity and to [ask questions about queerness and gender identity],” they said. 

Smith continued on about the goal of Swarthmore’s Pride Month, highlighting the importance of it being not only a time for celebration and a space for Swarthmore’s LGBTQ+ community in general, but a time to give space and awareness to transgender women of color and Black femmes through events like the drag show. 

“Of course there’s a lot of fun that happens … there are a plethora of events. But on a more serious note, [Pride Month] also gives space to and awareness for those who are especially affected by discrimination. I’m thinking trans women of color or Black femmes, because they need that visibility. Events such as the Black Girl Magic drag show [give] us time to reflect and uphold our Queer history with the Stonewall Riots and other Queer equality movements which have been started and led by Black trans fol[ks],” they emphasized.

Another event featured that specifically recognizes and gives space to the trans community is the “Trans Day of Remembrance Candlelight Vigil” on November 20. It is the final event of the month, and serves to acknowledge the violence experienced by the trans community and trans women of color in particular. 

Thompson described the event, stressing its significance and encouraging people to attend.

“I want to encourage folks to participate in all of Pride Month, but especially for our closing event, the Trans Day of Remembrance Candlelight Vigil. Trans folks, trans women of color in particular, are still experiencing violence globally. At this vigil we will read all the names of all the trans and gender non-conforming people we have lost over the year. Pride is about celebration and acceptance and that also includes remembering that the LGBTQ+ community still has work before we are all fully accepted,” she expressed. 

In addition to Pride Month being a time for heavy discussion and acknowledgment of historically underrepresented experiences within the LGBTQ+ community, it’s also a time for celebration and fun. The events that have occurred so far embody the celebratory nature of Pride Month, especially “Glitter Bomb Pub Nite”, also known as “Queer Pub,” which took place on October 10th.

Ramiro Hernandez ’23, a first-year student and member of Swarthmore’s LGBTQ+ community, attended “Glitter Bomb Pub Nite” and enjoyed it.

“I went to Queer Pub; that was fun but I didn’t want glitter all over myself. So I lowkey ran away before the glitter bomb went off. The next day, there was glitter in my bathroom, all over the floor, so I made a wise choice. Overall, it was a lot of fun,” he remarked. 

Charlotte Pohl ’21, a member of the Pride Planning Committee and co-host of the event, commented on what she perceived as positive reactions to the event.

“I know people really liked “Queer Pub” because we made it a total mess. We had glitter everywhere. That was kind of a chaotic planning decision process but we were like: if anyone can get away with hosting this and not get in trouble, it’s probably us. The Pub Nite coordinators helped us with logistics,” she said.

Aside from “Glitter Bomb Pub Nite”, the two other events that have occurred include Pride Month Open Mic on October 24, and a film screening of “But I’m a Cheerleader” on October 25. Both were well-attended. 

While the response to events has been positive, some students have taken note of the fact that there are fewer events overall in this year’s Pride Month than last year’s. 

Smith was on the Pride Planning Committee last year and recognizes that there are fewer events happening this year. 

They think the decrease in the number of events resulted from a change in the membership of the Pride Committee, as many of last year’s members were seniors who have since graduated, as well as transitions in The Intercultural Center’s leadership.

Students, faculty, and staff can look forward to future Pride Month events: “Black Girl Magic Drag Show” on November 1, “LGBTQ+ Activism for POC in Philly” on November 14, “Sex Toy Bingo” on November 16, “Pride Brunch” on November 19, and “Trans Day of Rememberance Candlelight Vigil” on November 20.

The complete schedule including the location and times for the events was sent out in an email to students, faculty, and staff by Tiffany Thompson on October 21.  

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