Each year, we celebrate the diversity, triumphs and contributions of the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride takes place in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan. We are proud to join colleges and organizations around the country in this commemorative celebration to recognize the extraordinary impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals and their allies have had on history locally, nationally and internationally.
2020 Pride at LCC Recap
Let's Talk: A Discussion on What it's Like to Come Out & Be Out.
Show Us Your Pride Submissions
LCC Academic Success Coach
I started my academic journey at a well-known Michigan university. My journey was interrupted suddenly when I was mistreated by a faculty member due to my gender identity. At that time I had started hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and while my body was physically changing, my legal name that appeared on class rosters did not. As a very low-income college student, I couldn't afford the $300 to legally change my name. I was very lucky to have my HRT covered by Medicaid, but $300 was my share of rent for a month and having a room to sleep in was more important than changing my legal name at that time. Instead of changing my name legally, I resorted to emailing all of my instructors two weeks before my classes began each semester to let them know my preferred name and pronouns. Unfortunately, my request was not granted by a faculty member and led to sixteen weeks of mistreatment. Now on top of the social mistreatment I went through each day by my peers, political leaders, doctors, family, and media, I was now mistreated by someone who I was investing my education in. By the end of the semester, I had allowed this mistreatment to affect my performance in my other classes and was asked to leave the university for a semester. I worked for this university as a student employee and due to the credit requirements to continue employment I also lost my job. I didn't have school, I didn't have a job, and I didn't have any family to turn to for help. In less than a month I would potentially be evicted from my apartment, leaving me homeless and with a derogatory mark on my credit report that would make it nearly impossible for me to rent again.
I remember looking at my transcript from the university to review my final grades from that semester and saw the transfer credit I had earned from LCC in high school. At this moment I hadn't received any calls from the 100 job applications I had completed and I couldn't go back to the university, so I thought what the heck, maybe LCC will take my credits. I called the registrar's office and asked what it would take for me to become a student again at LCC. The person on the other end laughed and said, “You're always a student at LCC". They asked me to send my transcripts from the university, helped me set up an advising appointment with the music department, and explained how I could send my FAFSA to LCC. It felt like I went from having absolutely nothing to having a new future in less than 20 minutes.
I was really nervous about my advising appointment with the music department. Not only did I have to possibly audition and take a music theory placement test, but I also had to come out to this department. My voice was deep, I recently started sporting a mohawk, I had a dirt-stache, and I wore masculine clothing. To say the least, my appearance did not match the name listed on my transcript. I sent an email to the music department the day before my appointment to let them know what my preferred name was and requested that they pass it on to the music advisor. I received an auto response immediately explaining that they can take 2-3 days to respond. Great. The day came for my advising appointment. I checked in with the department and they said that I would be meeting with Molly Cryderman-Webber, the lead music faculty. I was sweating bullets as I sat waiting in probably the most uncomfortable chair in Gannon. Molly came out to greet me and before I could tell her my name she said, “You must be Jess. I am really happy that you decided to come back to LCC." What a relief. Molly mapped out the rest of my time at LCC, she emailed all of my instructors to let them know my preferred name and pronouns. When I left her office that day I had a missed phone call from a sandwich shop looking for a delivery driver. By the end of that day I had a new plan for my academic journey and was employed. Molly continued to check in on me weekly after classes began and I had the privilege of playing with her in the percussion ensemble.
My private lessons instructor, Evan, also made sure that my experience at LCC was top notch. He encouraged me to speak to the registrar about LCC creating a preferred name policy and helped me set up an appointment with them. At this appointment I was able to explain why it would be a benefit for students like me and other populations of students that use a different name than the one they were given to have the option of choosing a preferred name to appear on class rosters. She really wanted to help me, but due to technology barriers at that time her hands were tied. She said that there was a Banner upgrade in the works and that she hoped to use this feature once this upgrade happened. I was at LCC for 18 months and the upgrade never happened. Luckily, with the help from Molly and Evan, I was able to finish my associate's degree in music and was accepted to another university to finish my bachelor's degree without any incidents with my faculty members or other LCC staff.
In 2016 I began my career at LCC as a support staff (thanks to Susan Muma) and today I work the best job on campus as an Academic Success Coach. Shortly after my time as a student at LCC I was able to afford the $300 to legally change my name and many of my fears of being outed faded away. I still have fears, which is why 90% of my coworkers and even some of my friends do not know that I am transgender. In celebration of pride month, I have decided to share this story in hopes that you will learn something from it. For some that will be changing your language and views when working with our students, because you truly do not know what they have been through to be with us at LCC. For others it will be knowing that you have another coworker and/or friend that has walked a similar path as you and together we can celebrate that we were able to make it past the bumps in the road. I am happy to say that I have been helping with the preferred name and pronoun initiative since my return to LCC as a staff member and we should have this option available to faculty, staff, and students during the 2020/2021 academic year.
My privilege as a white, heterosexual, middle-class, passing transgender man makes it possible for me to live the rest of my life without the constant fear that a stranger on the street is going to know that I am transgender and mistreat me because of my identity. I wish that I could say the same for trangender women of color, who are the one of the most oppressed communities in the world. In 2019 the majority of transgender people who were murdered because of their identity were black transgender women. Just this month, on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 LGBTA people dead and more than 50 injured, nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people seeking health care and health insurance were removed. I am lucky to have a friendly health care provider and health insurance carrier, but for many LGBT people living in poverty this could prevent them from getting the health care they need. This unfortunate decision will affect the students you work with, coworkers, family, friends, and kind strangers you encounter on a daily basis. I encourage you to continuously educate yourself on the injustices that are happening around us and to stand up for those that are less privileged than you.
I am thankful for those who came before me who fought for the right to simply be themselves, and to love who they love. To me Pride is about being honest and real. To not allow systems of injustice to tell us we are wrong for having been born a certain way.
Even though I came out over 20 years ago, I still get excited when I see other same-sex couples or when I see (positive) representation of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the media. We are still a minority and there is still a lot of hostility in the world towards us.
My family is what fills me with the most pride. My wife and I have been together since 2013 and got married in 2016. I am a primary parent to her biological children and we are recognized and embraced as a family in almost every situation.
I also really appreciate being a part of an institution that values diversity and inclusion. While this summer Pride celebrations look different due to COVID-19, I hope to celebrate in our own ways and keep moving towards true equality and freedom.
Sarah + Cecilia Garcia-Linz
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The LCC Prism Alliance educates, supports and empowers college employees to establish and maintain a safe and inclusive environment in which individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities may lead their lives openly and authentically. If you are interested in joining the Prism Alliance or have a question or suggestion, please reach out.
Did You Know?
Approximately 1 million children in the U.S. are being raised by same-sex couples.
The state with the most gay couples is California, with approximately 92,138. The state with the least gay couples is North Dakota, with approximately 703 couples.
In 2013, 92% of adults who are LGBT said they believe society had become more accepting of them than in the past 10 years.
In July 2009, the Senate approved the Matthew Shepard Act, which outlaws hate crimes based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.
June 28, 1969 - Police raid the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Protests and demonstrations begin, and it later becomes known as the impetus for the gay civil rights movement in the United States.
1973 - Lambda Legal becomes the first legal organization established to fight for the equal rights of gays and lesbians. Lambda also becomes their own first client after being denied non-profit status; the New York Supreme Court eventually rules that Lambda Legal can exist as a non-profit.
1978 - Inspired by Harvey Milk to develop a symbol of pride and hope for the LGBT community, Gilbert Baker designs and stitches together the first rainbow flag.
May 17, 2004 - The first legal same-sex marriage in the United States takes place in Massachusetts.
September 20, 2011 - "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is repealed, ending a ban on gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months.