As the gusty winds swayed through the large rainbow flag draped over the front steps of Old Main, close to 40, even 50 Penn State students of the LGBTQ community gathered together for a cause bigger than just themselves.
Celebrating the commencement of Pride Week for the LGBTQ community here in State College, beginning March 19 and concluding this past Sunday, the Penn State LGBTQ Resource Center hosted a Pride Week rally at noon on Wednesday on the front steps of Old Main.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Ally (LGBTQA) Student Resource Center provides a comprehensive range of programming, education, information, and advocacy services. They work to create and maintain an open, safe, and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students at Penn State.
The LGBTQA Student Resource Center first opened its doors on January 31st, 1994 and is considered far and wide as “one of the most comprehensive centers across the country,” according to Assistant Director Sonya Wilmoth.
Wilmoth said she believes that it is “very important that the campus knows the importance of Pride Week. We come together as a community and are very proud of the identities that we hold.”
Students had zero hesitation upon the closing of the introduction of the event to make their way up the stairs to speak about their personal experiences.
Junior psychology major, Cameron Yencsik was the first to get up and confidently speak about his experience being gay at Penn State versus the difficult time he had coming out at home.
“I never really had a chance to be out in my small conservative community at home,” said Yencsik.
His fellow peers of the LGBTQ community strongly and outwardly supported Yencsik as he descended from the Old Main stairs with a big smile across his face.
John Gilbert, senior and newly retired president of the LGBTQA Student Roundtable also had several positive things to say about his respective community here at Penn State.
“I’m proud to be out at Penn State. There’s so many unique things here that Penn State has to offer for us that we can all take advantage of.”
Gilbert explained how accepting the University is with these specific organizations seeing as that the school has things like gender-neutral housing to offer and a student government pushing for the establishment of gender-neutral restrooms.
All of the students supporting this event seemed to have one thing in common – their confidence with being out within the Penn State community.
The university has finally given these students resources to find their niche at school and explore who they truly are as individuals. That is why Penn State is so notable for this extensive program that they offer.