Equality, freedom and openness are just some of the terms that the organization PRIDE pushes for students at Western to achieve.
PRIDE Secretary Keisha Davis says that PRIDE is an outlet organization for gay students who attend Missouri Western. She wants to show students that everyone is equal and no one should be judged.
“I don’t know if just one group can change people’s opinion on the queer kids, although many people have a negative opinion on us,” Davis said. “I just don’t think that one group can change everyone’s opinions, but if we can change one person’s then we can make a difference.”
The organization wants to be viewed as a positive group on campus. Their goal is to bring gay and straight students and the community together to support those who may be looked down upon. PRIDE Vice President Kathleen Furlong said that the group welcomes everyone, not just the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“We strive to send the positive message of equality for all,” Furlong said. “The people in the LGBT community are just like everyone else. We are sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers. PRIDE educates people on this. We are no different than you and that is the message we are trying to spread.”
Davis believes that Missouri Western is far from being fully equal towards “the queer kids,” but believes Western is better than most universities.
“How would you feel if you were told that the person you were in love with was wrong?” Davis said. “That the one person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with, you couldn’t. How would you feel being judged or ridiculed for being the person that you are?”
PRIDE wants to let the student body know that they are here, and have events coming up that will be family-friendly. Over the years PRIDE has been recruiting new members and educating students on safe sex.
“We will be passing out safe sex flyers along with condoms and dental dams at Heart Your Union,” Furlong said. “We will also have a day of silence and the drag show this semester.”
PRIDE President Tyler Rhoad encourages closeted students to come out. You aren’t under your parent’s roof anymore, Rhoad said. Rhoad’s goal is to let others know that it’s okay to be who you are at college.
“You’re in college, the people you surround yourself with will help, because this isn’t high school, and you don’t have to worry about Mom and Dad anymore,” Rhoad said. “People like you for who you are, and don’t fake being someone you’re not.”