LGBTQ+ Initiatives Holds Inaugural Pride Walk as Part of Annual Queerfest Event

As part of their annual Queerfest celebration, which includes activities hosted at Colgate working to destigmatize queer identities and educate allies, the Office of LGBTQ+ Initiatives hosted its first Pride Walk on Colgate’s campus on Wednesday, March 30. Along with the Pride Walk, activities included Drag Bingo and an event called “Queer* Paths to Success: Career Tips.” The Pride Walk was a “great success,” according to director of LGBTQ+ initiatives Lyosha Gorshkov, through rain and shine as the Colgate Pep Band led the group of students through campus from the Center for Women’s Studies to the Rainbow Room. 

“This walk was the first of its kind at Colgate. Despite the tricky weather, a decent amount of people showed up and walked all the way down to the Rainbow Room,” Gorshkov said.  “The mood was enthusiastic. We were greeted by a lot of folks sticking out of their residential halls windows as well as passerbyers. To me, this is a significant indicator that people care and support [the] LGBTIQA+ community,” 

The walk aimed not only to bolster the visibility of LGBTIQA+ identities on campus, but also to promote greater allyship among the student body at-large.

“Marching together for the first time, led by the amazing pep band — students, staff, faculty, senior leadership from various walks of life shoulder by shoulder — is a vivid illustration of Colgate’s readiness to be open, to be welcoming and to keep up with the ‘Third-Century [Plan],’” Gorshkov added.

Attendee sophomore Mariama Lemon said the walk felt impactful.  

“Queer people on this campus and in life are often fighting … for basic human rights, the right to be seen, against stereotypes and prejudice, and the list goes on. …[It] was a moment to celebrate queerness, take a break from fighting and just enjoy our existence on our own terms. I also think it was a moment for other people to [view] queer people in a positive light, not dealing with harm.”It was successful and a lot of fun, not just for us but even for spectators [though] I do wish more people were able to participate.” 

The pep band worked as an energizing addition to the walk. First-year R Hunsicker, an LGBTQIA+ intern and member of the pep band, was especially excited about these organizations coming together for this event.

“I was incredibly excited to be in a place where students who usually don’t go to explicitly queer events were able to come together in support of our queer community,” Hunsicker said. “Although the rain made it quite nerve wracking to perform, it was worth it. Being able to combine two of my favorite communities on campus and feel the pure joy and excitement from my peers for using our pep to directly support fellow students was exhilarating.”

The Pride Walk may have been the first of its kind on campus, but it is a part of what Gorshkov called a longstanding campus tradition and the office of LGBTQ+ Initiatives’ trademark event, Queerfest.  

“Just like the walk, Queerfest is a display of queerness on our terms, it is meant to display joy and celebration. This week focuses on different components of queerness so everyone in the community can have a space to be comfortable and safe. The more we talk about queerness the less taboo it becomes and people will get a better [understanding] of what queerness means and looks like,” Lemon said. 

Gorshkov added that the series of events celebrating Queerfest included drag bingo, a Career Services workshop on paths to success for non-binary and trans* identified students and a queer alumni and student social hour, among others spearheaded by student groups including Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) and the Trans Advocacy Group.

“The idea is to celebrate LGBTIQA+ folks and allies through art, social gatherings and a series of workshops that help our students to navigate their personal and professional identities,” Gorshkov said.