Annual PRIDE Dance takes place

The PRIDE Dance showcased different sexualities and gender identities with colorful flags. Celina Tebor/The USD Vista

Celina Tebor | Feature Editor | USD Vista

LGBTQ+ community at USD hosts its fall dance for the eighth year in a row

Any student walking past the SLP last Thursday night could hear the booming music and bright multicolored lights from its rooftop. Walk upstairs and one would find dozens of USD students dancing and taking pictures, many of them wearing brightly colored clothing which accented the dozens of flags along the wall representing different sexualities and gender identities. 

PRIDE and LGBTQ+ Womxn of USD hosted its annual PRIDE Dance. The dance was an event open to all USD students, featuring a live performance by DJ Swish, food, refreshments, games, and a photo booth.

Some students were in casual t-shirts and jeans, while others wore ball gowns and a select few bared a bit of skin, wearing fishnet stockings and crop-tops.

Senior and the president of PRIDE, Chris Harrop, stated that the PRIDE dance has been a tradition for years.

“We held our first PRIDE Dance back in 2009,” Harrop said. “The dance has been our staple fall PRIDE event for the eight years ever since.”

While the PRIDE Dance was open to all students no matter their sexual orientations or gender identities, Harrop expressed that the dance was especially important for students in the LGBTQ+ community. 

“I think a PRIDE-sponsored dance is really important for LGBTQ+ students to feel comfortable and accepted,” Harrop said. “Many LGBTQ+ students didn’t get the chance to bring their full, authentic selves to high school dances.”

First-year Eliza Khem, who attended the dance, agreed that many LGBTQ+ students may not have had the chance to express their identities during their high school experience. 

“In high school, you always want to feel like you fit in, like you always get along,” Eliza said. “You’re dictated by other peers.” 

While the PRIDE Dance was certainly not a redo of senior prom, the music provided by DJ Swish gave an aura of youthfulness and fun to the entire event, and a student’s choreographed dance performance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies elicited cheers from the entire crowd. This is the second year in a row DJ Swish performed at the dance.

This year’s PRIDE Dance took place earlier in the semester than inn prior years, according to Harrop. “We wanted incoming LGBTQ+ and Ally students to know immediately that they have a place at USD,” Harrop said.

As the president of PRIDE, Harrop serves on a number of committees working on various activism initiatives with faculty and administrators to make USD more inclusive.

“At PRIDE, we strive to create an environment where people feel that they can bring their full selves and feel embraced at our events and meetings,” Harrop said. “My goal for PRIDE is to continually foster a supportive, inclusive environment for students of all identities.”

Harrop and Khem both noted the benefit from their involvement with PRIDE. The club enables them to feel safe to be themselves and be supported, especially when figuring out their identity.

“It’s so special because it gives [LGBTQ+ students] a space to connect with other people who have their experiences,” Khem said. “They may not have the exact same experiences, but they understand how it feels to have a different sexual orientation and to not feel represented.”

There was originally resistance from school administration about hosting a PRIDE Dance back in 2009, but after widespread student support, it was allowed. Ever since, USD has been taking more strides to support LGBTQ+ students.

PRIDE is important to many students, but it would not exist without funding and support from Associated Students and the USD administration. The PRIDE Dance was AS sponsored, and Harrop is grateful for their help.

“AS has been gracious and accommodating in supporting and funding this event for the past eight years,” Harrop said. “Several members of AS stopped by the dance this year, and we were grateful to have them.”

USD has also allocated funding to PRIDE so they can host the PRIDE Dance, the annual spring drag show, and attend events such as the AIDS Walk.

 “[These events] demonstrate that the university supports its LGBTQ+ students,” Harrop said. “PRIDE looks forward to future opportunities to collaborate and partner with administrators and faculty on projects to make the campus more inclusive and diverse.”

Khem acknowledges that USD is working hard to help the LGBTQ+ community feel accepted, but wishes that the school would promote the different organizations more. “People who are administrators of PRIDE try really hard to get the word out there, but I feel like sometimes, PRIDE isn’t given as many chances to shine as other clubs would,” Khem said. “Sexuality is a sensitive topic, but it’s something that’s very important in our lives. It affects us as human beings and it affects who we are.” 

Throughout the years, the LGBTQ+ community has fought to gain acceptance within USD’s policies. Milestones include the Board of Trustees approving the addition of “sexual orientation” to the non-discrimination policy in 2000 and when “gender identity” and “gender expression” were added to USD’s non-harassment and non-discrimination policies in 2011. 

Events like the PRIDE Dance show that USD is taking strides to make everyone feel welcome in the community, no matter what their sexual orientations or gender identities are.

While the PRIDE Dance symbolized the rights LGBTQ+ students have fought for throughout the years, it was also an event for all LGBTQ+ and Ally students to simply have a fun and relaxed night. 

“I’m just really happy to just chill out with people and talk,” Khem said. “It’s fun to see other people have fun. This is a time for us to hang out and be ourselves.”

PRIDE meets weekly on Wednesdays from 7-8 p.m. in the Commuter Commons (UC 119). All LGBTQ+ and Ally students are welcome to attend meetings.