The First Annual Redlands’ PRIDE event took place on March 11 in the University of Redlands’ Orton Center. Members of the community that identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), and allies, all came together to meet, mingle, and connect.
Janelle Cronk ‘16, an intern at the PRIDE Center at the University, coordinated the night’s festivities. When she first came to the University, she said she expected the PRIDE Center to be more vibrant and involved than it turned out to be. She worked and planned events in the PRIDE Center throughout her time at the University to ensure its growth.
The PRIDE center started in the closet of the Women’s Center, which was in the basement of the library, as Denise Davis explained. Davis graduated from University of Redlands in ’06 and has since returned to work as the University’s Director of Student Leadership and Involvement. When she arrived at the University in ‘02, the PRIDE center did not exist, and a group of students in East Hall wondered why there was no representation and space to talk about gender identity and sexuality.
Davis worked together with a group of other students to form Safe Space Allies, which works to encourage acceptance and educate the campus community about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, androgynous, and asexual (LGBTQIAA) community. Eventually the PRIDE center was established on March 11, 2005.
Now, every March 11, the anniversary of the founding of the PRIDE Center, an event takes place. Sarah Grimley ‘16, also an intern at the PRIDE Center, said the other events the center has put on in the past include: National Coming Out Week, PRIDE Week, and Transgender Remembrance Day. She also announced future events, such as Andrea Gibson, who is a poet and activist, coming to speak on March 29.
During Cronk’s time here, more people acquired interest in coming to the PRIDE Center. Once she felt she had a handle on college students, she explored ways to expand around campus and create a sustainable community that is able to hold conversations across generations.
This is where the idea of Rainbow Grove came. Cronk created Rainbow Grove in order to create a relationship with businesses, who will display the Rainbow Grove logo in order to let the community know that they are allies of the LGBTQ community. Rainbow Grove was first introduced at this event by Cronk. Business owners that supported this project were in attendance of Redlands’ PRIDE.
Leelia MadhavaRau, the Associate Dean for Campus Diversity and Inclusion, explains that Rainbow Grove is an opportunity to expand the options for members of the LGBTQ community to congregate, instead of feeling as if their only options are to go to bars. She explains that this First Annual Redlands PRIDE event is the first step in reaching out to the outer community and expanding options for the Redlands LGBTQ community to feel safe and accepted.
Ryan Bailey and Al Hernandez are partners and business owners of Citrograph Printing Co. in Redlands and attended the First Annual Redlands’ PRIDE. While they feel that their fellow community members in Redlands have accepted them, they believe that the community is not ready for and will not accept PRIDE events, such as if a parade was to happen downtown. However, they believe that if change was going to begin, it was going to start at the University level.
However, there is some change happening outside of the University, such as Joshua Home; an organization run by Annette Patterson, mother of five–her youngest about to graduate from the University of Redlands. She said she had a divine intervention one day, and knew she had to help the homeless LGBTQ youth. The organization is looking for property and monetary donations to try to find a home in Redlands to foster the homeless LGBTQ youth.
Cronk and Grimley are both graduating this semester and are hoping for new interns as passionate as them to take over their positions and continue on with events that create connections and spread awareness about PRIDE and the LGBTQ community. With a positive outlook on the future, the PRIDE Center is excited to see more connections and outlets for the LGBTQ community in the city of Redlands.
[Images courtesy of Joseph Serrano, Redlands Bulldog photographer]