Written by Kade Tibberts, Greenwich High School class of 2021
Pride Month is a worldwide celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people that takes place in June. The Pride Week at GHS was run by the student Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Club, with a week of fun activities available to all students.
The first day offered rainbow stickers and candy. The second provided a trivia quiz on LGBTQ+ history and pop culture, with 10 randomly selected participants receiving Pride tote bags. The final day featured a duck hunt around the school, with rainbow rubber ducks that students could look for and keep.
Because of the school’s “Fun Day” for sophomores and freshmen, one planned Rainbow Day was cancelled, but students still enjoyed three full days of Pride.
“The reason we picked these is because we wanted to do something interactive with the students,” GSA club president Kaja Tully explained. She felt the second day was especially educational because it taught non-LGBTQ+ students information they may not have known.
“Just to make them aware that only six years ago, gay marriage was made legal in all 50 states. I think it was important for educating others,” Tully said.
Throughout the week, the GSA club also gave LGBTQ+ facts during the school’s morning announcements. On Friday, they talked about Marsha P. Johnson, a queer activist during the gay liberation movement, on the loudspeaker to the majority of the school.
“I think, with pride overall, it is remembering what we have done as a community and what we need to do now,” Kaja said. “It’s really important that we continue making people aware that pride still exists and there are still issues happening in 2021.”
Pride means something different to each person who participates. While it is unsafe for many LGBTQ+ youth to speak openly, during a GSA club meeting, they gave some of their thoughts to the club advisor, Jessica von Brachel.
The members of the GSA see pride as a “celebratory opportunity,” Ms. von Brachel related. “One student said when you are in the middle of pride, whether that’s a pride event or something like what we’re doing this week at GHS, and this is a quote, ‘it’s like the air is easier to breathe.'”
Another student told von Brachel: “It’s a month where I can express myself more than usual.”
Both Pride Week and the GSA itself provide LGBTQ+ youth a place where they can be genuine. Kaja calls the GSA, “a safe space for students that are either allies or a part of the [LGBTQ+] community.” Von Brachel described it as “a supportive, encouraging environment where the students can be unapologetically themselves.”
For many of the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Week reminds them of a future and of a world where they can be themselves all the time. And this includes students outside of the GSA as well.
Many students cannot participate in the GSA Club, whether because they have not “come out” yet, their parents are unsupportive, they simply don’t have the time, or any number of reasons. Pride Week and other GSA-run events remind them that they exist and there are resources and a community available to them.
One GSA member told von Brachel that Pride shows other students, “We’ve always been here; we’re not going anywhere…We are who we are and we will be here.”
The GSA has run other events this year for this same purpose. The GLSEN Vow of Silence on April 23 was a nationwide day-long vow of silence to spread awareness about the metaphoric silencing of LGBTQ students due to harassment and bullying in schools. The GSA has also previously participated in the GHS Diversity Week.
Kaja has high hopes for future activism. The high school administration has been quick to respond to the club and she sees most teachers as supportive and ready for change.
Von Brachel sees this support as the most important action educators can do: listen. “I think young kid’s voices are a really important part of almost every conversation. We don’t hear them enough… Especially young people who are a part of the community—that’s who you should be hearing from.”
The club officials plan for teachers to pledge to start the school year by having students include their pronouns when introducing themselves. “If we start making it more normal to share pronouns and have people respect pronouns, that would be really amazing and would really help LGBT students at GHS,” Kaja explained.
These plans to improve the future of GHS are as important to Pride Week as the celebration itself. This is why Kaja feels something as simple as rainbow ducks are so important.
“It’s really important for us to acknowledge Pride and make a big deal out of Pride because it’s our past, present, and future,” she said. “We acknowledge our past, we live in the present, and in the future, we’re looking to change.”