Pride Alliance creates safe space

The month of October is known for its fall festivities leading up to Halloween. What many people don’t know however, is that October is LGBTQ+ History Month. As a way of honoring the LGBTQ+ community this month, The Blazer is highlighting Joliet Junior College’s Pride Alliance. The Pride Alliance is JJC’s club for LGBTQ+ students and allies to discuss event planning and current topics in the community. Members of the club have many reasons for joining. “Honestly, I needed to meet people,” new member Taylor Lindaur said. “This is my first year here, so I didn’t know anybody.” Their favorite part, they added, is that “Everybody’s so friendly, and I feel so welcome.” Ruby Escobedo, who has been part of the club since 2018, agreed with this sentiment. “It’s easy to make friends,” Escobedo said. “People don’t feel as awkward when they talk about themselves.” This welcome feeling is apparent from the cheerful greeting that Ryan Queeney, copresident of the Pride Alliance, gives to all people as they enter the meeting room. They confirmed that all students are welcome to join, regardless of if they identify with the community or just support it. “To create an inclusive space, we can’t exclude,” Queeney said. The club has a private Facebook group as well as a Discord server for members to stay connected outside of meetings. These spaces are made private to keep all members’ identities safe. Dain Meza-Gotto, the club’s co-advisor, reflected on an interaction he had during Mainstreet. “There was a student that asked, ‘I’m interested in joining, but I’m worried that my parents will find out that I’m in this club,’ so I don’t think we’ll ever publish a list of our membership,”Meza- Gotto explained. It’s important for anyone who considers joining to know that they have ways to participate while remaining anonymous. Meetings, which are held on Wednesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., can be joined on Zoom or in room U-1003 on campus. Patricia Binfa, the club’s advisor, provided her reasoning for using Zoom. “Teams doesn’t have the ability for you to change your name,” Binfa said. “It can out a person, it can put a person in a situation they don’t feel comfortable being in.” By using Zoom instead of Microsoft Teams, students do not have to appear with their deadname, or a birth name they no longer use because it conflicts with their identity, and they can choose to remain anonymous. Queeney stresses the importance of accessibility for all individuals. “Whether it be Covid, whether it be they’re not out, whether they don’t want people to see them because they’re not comfortable with their body or their gender presentation,” Queeney said. The Pride Alliance is a safe space for everyone, regardless of identity. If this is something you or someone you know may be interested in, feel free to join a meeting or reach out to a club advisor for more information.

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