UIndy PRIDE reaches out for universal acceptance

UIndy PRIDE is the University of Indianapolis’  gay-straight alliance,and it’s a safe place where allies, LBGTQIA supporters, and members can discuss issues within the LGBTQIA community. The group meets every Wednesday night in the basement of Schwitzer at 9 p.m.

Junior social work major and Co-Chair of PRIDE Austin Elliott said that the meetings are often discussion-based.

“We talk about subjects that correlate with our life, but it’s also very educational based, like informing us on issues in our society and community,”  Elliott said. “It’s  a place where we can come together and also how we can bring our influence out to the community as well.”

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Students in UIndy PRIDE and UMSA work on unfurling crayons to use for crayon art. Photo by Shane Collins- Yosha

PRIDE is continuing to try and spread acceptance.

“Allies are generally pretty accepting,” Elliott said. “Sometimes you get weird looks, but overall they’re pretty accepting. Since we are a United Methodist affiliated school, [it] can sometimes cause a little bit of controversy with the schools and other RSO’s. So we still have to make sure we’re being respectful of other’s beliefs. The same goes towards us.”

To help spread acceptance, UIndy PRIDE will set up tables during lunch hours and talk to passing students about current events and to promote upcoming events the RSO is sponsoring. PRIDE also partners with other RSOs when putting on events. Elliott said members do this to “show support for each other.” PRIDE’s most recent event was creating crayon art with UMSA.

“We do try to do things with the religious organizations, just to show support for each other,” Elliott said. “We try to reach out to other groups just to kind of spread what we’re for and what they’re for.”

Elliott also added that  he comes from a small town where the LBGTQIA community is “hush hush and not widely talked about,” but that coming here and being part of PRIDE has had its benefits.

“The biggest benefit is the form of community the RSO provides. It’s just a fun place we can come to where you just feel comfortable and safe, and everyone knows what we talk about will stay between each other because some things can be very sensitive and some lighthearted. It’s a safe place for me and others to talk about some of the shared struggles and joys we’ve all felt.”

Elliot said there has been movement across the country in support of the LGBTQIA community, and Elliot agrees that it has helped the RSO as a whole.

“We’ve gained a lot of support. We’ve had a lot of people over the summer come back and say, ‘Congratulations!’ or text us or tag us on social media. It’s helped us gain a little more acknowledgement that our movement is serious. And it’s not just something like selfishly wanting and more of [an] acknowledgement of human rights. So it’s very much helped us, getting a stronger sense of identity in terms that we are relevant to society and that our issues matter.”

Even though the RSO has been continuing to gain support, it still has some significant goals for the future.

“Our big thing for next year is initiating safe zone training,” Elliot said. “It would be cool if we could do it towards students, but it’s mostly geared towards faculty members and members of the offices. What it is … that they’ll go through training, and they’ll become certified and qualified in terms of being a safe place to talk and not be judged about it. We’ve had a couple of those in the past, but it’s something we would like to reemphasize, because faculty members come and go.”