By Robyn Ayers, Circulation Support Staff, Quinn Library
How many times have you walked on to campus and casually passed the banner reading “New York is my campus, Fordham is my school”? It’s habitual for so many of us, but the environment of this pandemic has highlighted just how true that statement is. The Fordham community is feeling this crisis acutely, and nothing seems to exist in the comfort of habitual anymore. As we end the school year and transition into June and the beginning of summer, we approach a new set of experiences to grieve. For the LGBTQ+ community in particular, this time means a keen sense of loss of the Pride month celebrations, community building, and activism.
What does the impact of COVID-19 mean for New York, Fordham, and the LGBTQ+ people that are a part of both of those communities? How are the Fordham Libraries able to soften this time of transition? This series will touch on the different resources available for our LGBTQ+ members of the Fordham community, both at school and on campus.
NYC Pride Celebrations
On April 20th, Mayor Bill De Blasio officially suspended all Pride 2020 events as holders of nonessential city permits. While this perhaps did not come as a shock to queer New Yorkers (a fact that was acknowledged by De Blasio in the broadcasted press conference), the loss to LGBTQ+ New Yorkers is significant and deserves to be acknowledged. Pride Month events – both in New York City and worldwide – are a pillar of the queer population. They provide community and connection among some of the most vulnerable and marginalized among us. 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, and millions came to NYC to celebrate World Pride. 2020 was supposed to mark the 50th anniversary of the parade itself, which makes the timing of this cancellation an even more prominent historical letdown.
De Blasio mentioned the potential possibility of these events being scheduled later in the year, hedging that “that joy and that pride that all of these events bring – that celebration – will be back. We’re gonna do it when it’s the right time”. Of course, nothing about this situation is certain. For the most up-to-date information, please follow the organizers of NYC Pride. The official statement from Heritage of Pride acknowledges the difficult necessity of canceling pride events, but also assures the community that NYC Pride will participate in the virtual Global Pride event, orchestrated by InterPride. In addition, WABC-TV says that the station will broadcast a virtual celebration in June.
Beyond the official NYC Pride plans, LGBTQ+ organizations across the city are stepping up to provide virtual spaces in lieu of an in-person celebration. While Heritage of Pride has committed to the Global Pride event, Brooklyn Pride, Staten Island Pride, and Queens Pride have all put forth announcements detailing how they have moved their individual Pride events online.
And it doesn’t stop at the official borough organizations, either – the community journalism platform them. announced shortly after the official cancellation that they will host Out Now Live, a virtual Pride celebration to kick off New York City Pride week. In addition, both NYC Dyke March and the Reclaim Pride Coalition have indicated plans for virtual events both during June and beyond, and are also active in coordinating community spaces and mutual aid resource lists. On a slightly smaller scale, The Center has successfully transitioned most of their daily programming to virtual spaces, as has the Brooklyn Community Pride Center.
Pride Month in the Fordham Community
Because Fordham students, staff, and faculty will still be off-campus throughout Pride month, we cannot come together as a Fordham community in the same way that we have looked forward to in the past. However, distance does not mean that these communities have disappeared, or that there are no offerings available to you beyond Pride month events. Whether you’ve been involved since your first day at Fordham or you are new to queer spaces and have no clue what Fordham has to offer, there is space for you.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs provides several events and programs designed to create a more inclusive and accepting space at Fordham, including support network training and spirituality retreats. While off-campus, OMA continues to update the community about virtual programming through their Instagram page.
In addition to university-led programming, OMA coordinates with multiple student-led campus programs designed to foster community care and advocate for LGBTQ+ students at Fordham. Rose Hill is the home of PRIDE Alliance, and Lincoln Center hosts the Rainbow Alliance. Both PRIDE and Rainbow are student run, hosting weekly meetings and coordinate with OMA to foster a welcoming community on campus – from the Coming Out Day Dance to Queer Prom to simply hanging out with your peers – there are spaces for LGBTQ+ Fordham students to connect. During this period of remote operations, the best way to get in touch with these organizations is through their Facebook pages (RH, LC). In the meantime, check out different pieces in the Fordham Observer and the Fordham Ram about how these student organizations are moving throughout the Fordham community.
Concerned about losing community when you graduate? Not to worry – you can stay connected with fellow LGBTQ+ graduates through Rainbow Rams, Fordham’s LGBTQ+ alumni chapter. Rainbow Rams will celebrate its fourth birthday this fall, and they’ve built up quite the repertoire in that short amount of time. Social events, networking, and panels are a staple, and the Rainbow Rams even coordinated with NYC Pride and have marched in the pride parade since 2017! For more information on how to join, check out their description on Forever Fordham, and follow their Facebook page for up-to-date event information.
The effects of COVID-19 range far and wide, and the LGBTQ+ community is being flung in all directions, as everyone tries to navigate such intense concentrations of change. Thankfully, we have put in the work to both see and be seen, and because of this communal effort, you can rely on the integrity of these organizations to carry you through this time apart. When you connect with LGBTQ+ virtual spaces – whether through Fordham, NYC, or elsewhere – there are others reaching out across the bandwidth in your direction. They are here, you are here, and neither will disappear even as we celebrate Pride Month apart. Perhaps we cannot hug each other at the moment, but trust that at the very least, the person on the other end of this blog post is reaching out to you, a gentle reminder that you are seen and celebrated, during Pride month and every day of the year.