Pride Alliance is a community building organization for LGBTQA+ people on campus. Street spoke to co-president Lily Gellman ’17 about the group’s initiatives and what’s next.
Daily Princetonian: Can you describe the Pride Alliance and what it does on Princeton’s campus?
Lily Gellman ’17: I would describe it as a community building organization for LGBTQA+ people on campus. We mostly do social events, and we say that we’re not explicitly a political group, but we do take sides on things on campus that are important to our community as long as we discuss them as a board and we agree on them. Right now we’re revising a letter of solidarity we’ve written to the Black Justice League and their actions.
DP: What are some of the major events for Pride Alliance?
LG: In terms of our own events, some of the regular events we put on are CafeQs, which are just informal gatherings that we put on every two weeks with a theme, and we have snacks and play games. We put on a faculty dinner series with professors called “Being LGBTQA in Academia,” where we invite professors to have dinner with us in the private dining rooms and have fun conversations with them. This past Friday, we had our second Queer Formal, which was a huge success.
The biggest event we do every year is Pride Month, which used to be Pride Week actually, but under the administration of Diana Li ’16 and myself, we’ve expanded that to Pride Month because we found that we jam-packed the week with so many events in the past that people got overwhelmed. Last year’s Pride Month had a Queer Artistry theme, which ran from April 3-25, with events like an exHOTic other Burlesque Workshop and Performance, a Better Than Sex* (*to asexuals) Series and Queer Yoga and Karaoke. One of our more successful Pride Month events was a spoken word performance by Kit Yan, a transgender, queer, Asian American slam poet from Hawaii who explores being transgender and poor in the medical and social services systems and working through heartache in queer identity.
DP: Why did you initially decide to join the Pride Alliance?
LG: I wanted to get involved ever since I first visited Princeton. Seeing that there was a strong LGBT Center and small surrounding communities was a factor in my coming because I didn’t want to go to a school that had everything almost figured out already, and I did see that there was room for improvement at Princeton. It’s very meaningful to me to make spaces for people where they can be themselves and also talk to a huge diversity of people who identify in similar ways. It’s also just fun to plan the events that I would want to go to, while also redistributing our university’s capital into the hands of guest speakers and performers who are trans, queer, people of color ... who we can invite to spread their knowledge.
DP: Is there a particularly memorable or meaningful experience that you have had while in Pride Alliance?
LG: For the past couple of years, as part of Pride Month, we have done something called Queer Monologues. It’s not as performative in nature as something that Ellipses does, but in people write and submit their own stories and experiences. They could do it anonymously and have someone else read them, read it themselves or speak more extemporaneously from the heart. We held it in Cafe Vivian last year, and that was a really powerful event that was part of Pride Month. I was proud that we could facilitate that as a group.
DP: Is there anything that you would like to say to those who are interested in becoming more involved with Pride Alliance?
LG: Regardless of your previous level of involvement, if you have any interest in organizing events for and by the community, then you should apply to be a part of the board. We’re going to have the application out soon through a Google Form, and if you aren’t signed up for the listserv you can always shoot me or Diana an email. We also recently introduced associate membership, so besides the Pride executive board that does stuff, you can sign up to be an associate member to show your support.Ultimately, I think that the more we have student involvement and a robust community through student organizations, the more it will also happen naturally outside of the auspices of those organizations. It’ll just help people feel like they can find affinity and have a sense of place here.