VT organizers prep for Pride

Jean MacBride, Staff Writer

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Alek Fleury
Pride flags blow in the wind on Church Street during the 2018 Pride Parade, September 2018.The Pride Vermont festival runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 8, ending with a parade. Visit pridevt.org/parade to learn how to get involved.

As leaves change and summer turns to fall, Church street transforms into a colorful display of love and acceptance. 

Pride Week will occur the week of Aug 31 to Sep. 8.

The UVM Pride parade celebrates LGBT rights gained through resistance by marching through Church Street to Battery Park in Burlington. 

The UVM Prism Center will be the meeting place for the UVM Pride Parade. The Prism Center provides outreach and education on LGBT matters to the community.

Becky Swem, a staff member at the center, emphasized the importance of celebrating Pride in Burlington.

“Even though a lot of people might move to Vermont because it’s very progressive, I think there is still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Swem said.

UVM Pride is a part of a larger celebration of the activism following the 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a popular LGBT bar.

Similar celebrations happen all over the country. One of the biggest takes place in  New York City, which holds the event on the date of the first Stonewall uprising, June 28. 

Swem explained the need for continuing activism through Pride.

“I think Pride is a celebration of how far we’ve come,” Swem said. 

Though the celebration is important, Swem said there is still work to be done.  

“We need to think about what we still need to do to make sure everyone in our community is included.”

But Swem also felt it was important to celebrate Pride through visibility.

“Sometimes there’s also a focus on the negative things in our community, but it’s also important to come together and celebrate,” Swem said. 

Swem reflected on the importance of the Prism Center at UVM.

“Many students coming to UVM haven’t had a strong queer and trans community,” she said. “So to see themselves represented is amazing, especially if they haven’t seen that community in the past.”

She pointed out specific issues she would like the LGBT community to work on.

“I think about how our trans members are and aren’t included in our community and how racism really impacts us, and what that looks like in a predominantly white state,” she said.

There are ways that straight students support Pride and LGBT spaces in a respectful way, Swem said.

“I think you have to be very thoughtful with how you’re showing up,” she said. “You can show your support but know that it’s not centered around you.”

First-year Stephen Reynolds recognized that visibility is crucial. 

“It’s important for people who identify that way to be able to express themselves and know that they’re accepted,” Reynolds said.

According to Swem, the Prism center started 20 years ago in the Allen House when the University added its first part-time staff member for LGBT issues. The position came from student activism.

“There are less than 300 LGBT centers like the Prism Center around the country,” Swem said.

The Pride Vermont festival runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 8, ending with a parade. Visit pridevt.org/parade to learn how to get involved.