On Oct. 12, the first annual LGBT Pride Week Rally was held at the Bell Tower Plaza. Members of the LGBT community, alongside community allies, gathered together in support of this event. Students milled in and out of the nearby buildings, listening to the words that echoed throughout Weber State University’s campus.
President of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance Kestin Page said, “This event is focused on showing mass support for our LGBT students here at Weber State. It’s for those students who may not feel supported in their day to day lives. We want to show that Weber State cares about them.”
The speakers at the rally included Vice Chair for the Outreach Resource Center Theresa Kay and Spanish Professor Dr. Tom Mathews, who shared their feelings on the community at Weber State University.
Mathews shared that when he’d come to the University as a student, he was not welcomed in the way that students are welcomed today.
“Our focus really is on keeping students safe, reducing incidents of suicide,” said University President Chuck Wight. “Because often our students don’t know where or how to get help.”
There has been an LGBT Club since 1996 and a Resource Center since 2013. With more resources being created everyday, the LGBT community has been able to create a place on the campus for students of all identities to feel welcome.
“Just coming here and knowing that there’s an LGBT Resource Center and there’s things like this (the Pride Rally). It feels really good to know that it’s a safe environment and that (Weber State) actually tries,” said student Zak Bourne. “The Resource Center has so much available. It’s helped me to feel more confident and more safe.”
“We are continuing to build Weber State as a more inclusive place, a place where everyone can come and learn, and live and participate in the University experience,” said Wight.
Kay shared that having a community is a big part of taking WSU closer to this goal of inclusiveness. “When it comes to community, one of the first things we find is that having a good social support network significantly reduces the impact of stress, protects us from the impacts of stress,” said Kay.
Jayson Stokes, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center, said, “Part of our coming together for this rally is realizing that there is community here…We need to continue to build that community and tell our stories and reach out to help people understand why this is important. As we build that community, we will only get better and better. Community is everything.”
“At Weber State, you have a home. I am incredibly grateful for everyone who has helped make it that way,” said Page. “If we’re able to reach one student who may not have felt supported or validated in their identity, it’s worthwhile.”