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Every June, Pride Month is celebrated across the United States to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. In recognition, current and former co-chairs of Booth’s LGBTQ+ student group Outreach reflect on what Pride Month means to them, how it’s evolved, and their hopes for future generations.

We’ll be sharing their reflections throughout the month of June. Check back weekly for new updates.

Shi-Wei Toh on a white unicorn holding a pastry

Shi-Wei Toh, Current Student

“Pride to me means embracing my authentic self and celebrating the best part of myself every day. As an Asian queer person of multiple intersectional identities, Pride Month is also a reminder for me to reflect, celebrate and honor how far we’ve come, while keeping in mind the challenges that still lie ahead in the march towards equality. I am lucky to have an amazing support system where the unconditional love and support from my chosen family has given me the courage to be my true self and thrive. Everyone’s journey is different and I hope that by sharing my experience, I will be able to make a small positive impact in someone else’s life.”

Julia Starr

Julia Starr, Current Student

“For me, Pride goes so much deeper than rainbow flags and parades. When I was in college, someone whose professional opinion I trusted told me that if I cut my hair short (as I wanted to do), I would be viewed in the workplace as a ‘lesbian’—the implication being that showing a part of myself was somehow a bad thing and that being out would negatively impact my career. I quickly changed the subject, but nonetheless the offhand comment reverberated for years to come as I started my career, closeted.

“Pride for me is about celebrating the long journey of learning to love myself for who I am. At Booth, I am proud to be an out, unabashedly queer woman. Pride Month is a time to remember the pain that LGBT+ people before us suffered, celebrate the progress we’ve made, and fight for a better future—and of course have a good time doing it!”

Matt Conan

Matt Conan, ’21

“Pride Month is about so many things, many of them wonderfully cliché. Loving ourselves. Being comfortable in our skin. Coming out, getting through our struggles with sexuality and gender identity. Living the life we want to live. Being public, honest, open, unashamed. Community. Those who came before us, who made our lives possible.

“More than anything, Pride to me is about the next generation. I want the lives of LGBTQ+ people 20 years from now to be better. I want that 4-year-old, who in 8 years is going to realize they’re gay, lesbian, trans, non-binary, to have an easier time coming out 10 years down the road, and to have a road map and pathway to a better life. To have real mentors and tangible examples to help when things are dark. To have a society that acknowledges them, accepts them, and supports them. I want that 4-year-old to see us celebrate and realize that it’s okay to be different, that it’s great to be different.

“Pride is a celebration of who we are and the lives we live. It’s a celebration of our forebears who suffered so much and fought so hard to get us to where we are today, and the lives they lived. But it’s also a celebration of hope, continuing the fight for a better future for those who may be too young to realize they need it, and of the lives they will live.

“There is so much power in visibility, and in being openly, unabashedly proud of who we are.”

Ariana Vergara-Johnson

Ariana Vergara-Johnson, ’21

“Pride Month is a time to reflect, to remember, and to honor all the parts of who I am. It is so easy to get sucked into the bubble of quotidian activities and responsibilities but Pride forces me to recognize my personal journey and it makes me smile. All of the colors, the flags, the rainbows bring magic to my life and makes me hold my wife’s hand a little longer, hug my gays a little harder, and wave a little more animatedly to the gaggles of queer folk.

“We are here, we are queer, and we are proud to be who we are. We are not your tokens or your experiments: we are made of real chosen families and filled with real, colorful, crooked love. I hope and I dream of a world where I will not need a month to respect who I am and celebrate how far I have come to be the very out and very gay woman/wife/human I am but until then—I dance with abandon.”


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