Cal Poly’s LGBTQIAP+ community celebrates their most significant and impactful event: during the month of April: Pride Month. The Pride Center was created to support and advocate for the unique academic and social needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual and pansexual (LGBTQIAP+) students to promote personal growth and success, according to the center’s website. The center provides a safe and inclusive space, creating an empowering environment for the LGBTQIAP+ and allied communities at Cal Poly.
While the United States generally celebrates annual Pride Month festivities during the month of June, Cal Poly makes an effort to allow students the chance to participate in the activities while school is still in session.
“Pride Month has a whole plethora of events to celebrate all the different sexualities and genders that appear here on campus and truly highlight them and uplift them,” Queer Student Union member and political science junior Dominic Scialabba said. “I’m very excited for the drag show. The drag shows are always a good time and I give so many props to the drag queens and kings that perform here at Cal Poly. It takes a lot of confidence to go up there and do what they do in this space.”
Cal Poly’s Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Cross Cultural Centers Bryan Hubain is excited for this event as well, for a specific reason.
“Some of our students did dare me to dress in drag,” Hubain said. “So, I will be going dragged out — hair done, face painted, six-inch heels ready to go. I’m really excited.”
Along with the drag show, the Pride Center will host a multitude and variety of events, including but not limited to:
- April 9-May 21 (Mondays at 6 p.m.) in Chumash Auditorium
A closed space for non-cisgender and gender nonconforming students to build community and engage in dialogue.
- April 10-June 5 (Tuesdays at 6 p.m.) at Cal Poly Pride Center
A closed space for queer and/or trans-identifying students to build community and discuss contemporary topics.
Convos for QTPOC
- April 17-May 29 (Tuesdays at 6 p.m.) at Cal Poly Pride Center
A closed space for queer and/or trans people of color to share their experiences.
Queer Women Wednesdays
- April 18-May 30 (Wednesdays at 6 p.m.) at Cal Poly Pride Center
A closed space for queer-identified women to build community and network.
State of Gender Sexualities
- April 23 (6 p.m.) at Julian A. McPhee University Union
An opportunity for students to go on stage and speak their minds about Cal Poly and their state of being.
The State of Gender and Sexualities event is one Hubain was especially excited about.
“This is new and something we started off and tested it with the ‘State of Blackness,’ which was amazing. The students spoke out and were amazing. I loved the students coming and stepping out,” Hubain said. “We need to be able to talk about our issues — a space to talk about our own experience, but also things that make us happy, things that celebrate our identity. Often times I’ve realized underrepresented students lack pride in their identity. Not all, but some.”
Pride Month is extremely important to the LGBTQIAP+ community at Cal Poly, allowing a time to celebrate their own unique identity unapologetically.
“My community is so important to me and in this world and especially in this political climate, queer people aren’t supposed to have fun,” comparative ethnic studies junior Gianna Bissa said. “We aren’t supposed to feel empowered. We aren’t supposed to be building these communities and expressing our love for one another. Any time that there is a space for us to come together and have a great time is not only a great night, it’s a night of resilience.”
For others, it is a reminder of how much they have grown since they initially came out.
“Pride Month for me is really a chance to celebrate my queer identity and celebrate how I choose to represent myself,” Scialabba said. “I just feel as if there’s a continual coming out that occurs always, whether it’s coming to campus or starting a new class with unfamiliar faces. It’s not just coming out, like ‘Oh, I’m queer,’ it’s a coming out of who I am and this is where my interests lie, whether it’s in academia or just in a social setting.”
While Cal Poly aims to promote inclusivity throughout the various communities on campus, some students feel a lack of support from administrators.
“Cal Poly has a lot of work to do. [The campus] continually says ‘inclusivity and diversity,’ but those seem to be completely empty terms that do not hold anyone accountable,” Sciablaba said. “We have seen the incorporation of a queer studies minor, which is amazing to show representation in academia, but also to provide a new critical lens to students to analyze the United States and systems that are in place at Cal Poly.”
Though the campus has worked to improve the resources available for the LGBTQUIAP+ community, such as a limited number of gender neutral restrooms, some feel as if administrators have not been prioritizing the needs of these students.
“We don’t have a Pride Center coordinator right now, we have very few Cross Cultural [Centers] coordinators right now because they’ve all left Cal Poly and that’s something Cal Poly needs to take a stand on,” Scialabba said.
However, many members still find solace in the celebration of their identities, leaning on one another for support and love. Pride Month is a celebration for the whole world to be boastful in their lifestyles.
“To actually be able to find the confidence, find the strength to be out— I get to be gay my own way and that is what I love,” Hubain said. “There is no one way to be gay and that’s what pride is really about. It’s a time for me to celebrate who I am, the way I am.”