Geneseo Pride provides acceptance, safe space to students

If you pass the Hunt Room on Thursdays at 8 p.m., it is likely you will see a stuffed zebra sitting on top of a pride flag. Alejandro, the mascot for Geneseo's Pride Alliance, is an emblem for meetings. The organization is a forum for the discussion and expression of the genuine self.

“To me, Pride has always been this safe space. Since freshman year, I would look forward to Thursday evenings ... Our door is always open for everyone,” Vice President junior Joey O'Connor said.

Pride spends much of its time exploring issues surrounding the LGBT Plus community while also trying keep members actively involved in the club.

“We have this anonymity box that goes around, and people can write comments or questions to the group that they don't necessarily feel comfortable saying out loud,” O'Connor said.

In order to ensure the maintenance of the safe space, the club uses the “ouch and oops rule.”

“If someone says something you might find offensive you might say 'ouch' so they know what they said hurt you,” he said. “Then the person who said this comment can say 'oops' and explain what they meant.”

“One of the things we're doing much better this year is planning new things to get people excited to go to Pride,” Secretary sophomore Victor Borges said. “Last year we had a lot of lectures. Those can be interesting, but it's a lot more fun to get members and even e-board members more involved.”

One of the club's bigger events Second Chance Prom took place on Friday Oct. 18 in the KnightSpot.

Members of the club formed a prom committee that planned the event, turning the KnightSpot into an enchanted forest masquerade. Second Chance Prom was an opportunity for Pride to work toward its aim to create a comfortable space for its members.

“Lots of times a lot of LGBT Plus folk couldn't go to prom with whom they wanted,” O'Connor said. “They couldn't go to their prom dressed how they wanted because high school is a very closed-minded environment.”

Pride also initiates a discussion in honor of National Coming Out Day, in which members share their personal anecdotes of coming out to their friends and family.

“The best settings we have are discussions,” Borges said. “It really lets us share our own personal ideas, even though they may vary among us.”

During the coming out discussion, O'Connor said it's “amazing that people feel comfortable to share their stories with us. It gets very emotional.

“I always leave the meeting feeling that the people come to Pride are such strong people,” O'Connor said.