Jun 06, 2020
(From left to right); Peter Robertson, Dr. Frank Lamas and President Joseph I. Castro speaking on the Free Speech Platform for Fresno State Pride Week Kick-Off on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.

Pride week kicks off celebrating LGBTQ students

Fresno State’s Cross Cultural and Gender Center (CCGC) hosted its second annual Pride Week kickoff event to celebrate LGBTQ students on campus.

The kickoff event happened at the free speech area on Monday, Oct. 7 from noon to 2 p.m. The first half of the event consisted of tabling, where groups from Fresno State and the surrounding Fresno LGBTQ community connected with students about safe spaces and opportunities to connect with others. 

The event ended with speeches by Dr. Francine L. Oputa, director of CCGC; Frank Lamas, Fresno State vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management; Joseph I. Castro, president of Fresno State; and Peter Robertson, director of Alumni Connections at Fresno State. 

“We want to use this week to conjure up campus pride, and hopefully have a lot of people from campus show their pride to have a strong community,” said Kiana Medina, CCGC graduate coordinator.

There was a multitude of community and religious organizations at the event, including the Money Management Center, Fresno State’s LGBTQ Center and Keeping It Sexually Safer. 

One community organization, Fresno Spectrum Center, was a new addition to the tabling event and the Fresno community as a whole. The center opened on Aug. 3, 2019, as a safe place for meetings, support groups, activities and socials. 

“We want to reach out to the community as a whole and Fresno State being a big part of our community, it’s very important, and our organization has services and things we can provide students with,” said Randy Velasco-Stoll, vice president of Fresno Spectrum Center.

Another table that generated a lot of attention was Trans-E-Motion, a non-profit organization based out of Fresno whose goal is to provide support and education to both transgender persons, their family and friends. 

“I know that a lot of trans people in the U.S. don’t get enough support for housing and food security,” said Robin Ward, a Fresno State student. “In general, they’re probably one of the most oppressed groups in LGBT, so I would like to bring a lot of attention to that.”

During the speeches, Oputa reflected on the history of the CCGC on campus, which has grown from a female-based organization but has since developed to include students of all genders and orientations to ensure student success.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but I get to see all the work that has been done,” Oputa said. “It has always been about growth, growth, growth and more, more, more.”

Lamas reflected on Fresno State’s growth through the creation and expansion of the CCGC, which has allowed for an inclusive and community centered environment at Fresno State. Castro followed by celebrating Pride Week to embrace diversity on campus. 

“For me, as your president, events like these are very important because they raise awareness about the diversity that exists on our campus,” Castro said. “It’s beautiful diversity that helps to educate everybody about how we’re all unique and the same in many respects.”

Keynote speaker Peter Robertson spoke about the violent acts he and other LGBTQ individuals endured when they attended Fresno State in 1987.

Robertson and his friends were openly bullied and harrassed; students would taunt them and call them names, scream Bible verses at them and their booth in the Free Speech Area was burnt down during Thanksgiving weekend.

Fresno State has since incorporated many LGBTQ organizations, starting with United Student Pride, Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival and Fresno Pride Parade, which will celebrate its 30 year anniversary in June 2020.

“Pride Week at Fresno State provides two things: it celebrates our community’s diversity while, at the same time, it remembers the adversity we have faced and overcome,” Robertson said.

The CCGC will continue to host events throughout the week. Wednesday, Oct. 9 there is a Pronoun Politics Workshop in Library 2206 from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 is a social media day where students will be entered into a raffle if they post a picture with the tag #FSPrideWeek on their Instagram or Facebook. Friday, Oct. 11 will wrap up the week’s events with a Pride Party in Library 3212 from noon to 2 p.m.

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