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Clemson celebrates diversity, LGBTQ awareness during Pride Week

Last year, Clemson University received a 1.5/5 score on the Pride Index. This score considered Clemson and other universities’ accessibilities and acceptance of the LGBTQ community. Out of the 276 schools that were reviewed, Clemson ranked among the bottom 10.
This year, Clemson’s Pride Week hopes to begin a change. With Pride Week being held April 2 through 8, the week, promoted by CU Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) and the Gantt Multicultural Center, is intended to raise awareness of the LGBTQ experience throughout Clemson.
“Pride Week is important to me because as an out gay man it brings me joy to not only celebrate the fact that I’m gay, but to bring awareness to others of the life and struggles that the LGBT community must face,” said Alessandro McLaughlin, a senior production studies in performing arts – theatre concentration major. “It allows the rest of the Clemson community to hear our roar.”
Pride Week is also an opportunity for the LGBTQ community to express pride — as the name suggests — in who they are and for non-LGBTQ students, faculty and staff to learn more about the community at large and what they can do to support the cause.
“The most important thing the Clemson community can do in relation to their LGBTQ peers at all is just to care,” said Jessie Bailey, a third-year English major and the current President of Clemson’s SAGA.
“The statistics on this vary, but the general consensus is that around 7-10 percent of millennials in the US identify within the community. It’s just not feasible for people to try to ignore the community here anymore.”
Among the things that the Campus Pride Index takes into consideration is the LGBTQ student life and support and institutional commitment (according to its website).
“Your study partner or fraternity brother could identify as LGBTQ, and if you’re casually throwing slurs or making fun of Caitlyn Jenner around them, chances are they don’t trust you,” Bailey said. “It really sucks to realize there are certain things you can’t talk to a friend about because you’re worried they’ll stop talking to you and maybe go tell other people.”
The city of Clemson did not fare any better, receiving a 0 out of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index Scorecard. Greenville received a 22, while Columbia received a 75, the highest score for the state.
“Clemson [University] having a 1.5 rating on the LGBT index has been tough for me in my time as a Tiger. But, my hopes for Clemson as a university, and Pride Week is a step forward, will sponsor more LGBT events, create awareness and begin to protect its queer students,” McLaughlin said. 
The week’s programs began with Sunday’s “Lavender Graduation,” which allowed graduating students in the LGBTQ community to display their accomplishments. Other events this week include a letter writing campaign, a showing of the film “Boy Meets Girl” and Clemson’s 5th annual Drag Show.
Pride Week originated in 1970, when the LGBTQ community in New York City rioted in protest of a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood. Since then, the tradition has grown to include almost every major city in the U.S. and many places around the world. In many places, such as Amsterdam, Pride Week has become something of a national holiday.
More information can be found on the Clemson Pride Week 2017 Facebook page and on the Gantt Center’s website.
“It’s a great opportunity for people who have been passive supporters or kind of on the fence to expose themselves to new perspectives and hopefully enjoy themselves in the process with engaging events like the Gender Exhibit and the Drag Show,” Bailey said.

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