Troy student groups to host gay pride event on campus

Published 10:06 pm Friday, March 29, 2019

Troy University senior Grantham Patterson said he knows how it feels to “come out of the closet” and not feel supported.

“I had a difficult experience with my family when I came out and they didn’t take it well,” said Patterson. “It was really crushing to me. There was a long time that I wasn’t OK; I was the community in Troy, friends that I had and professors and mentors, that helped me really make it through that experience.”

So before he left Troy, he wanted to host an event so that other students and local residents in the LGBTQ community could feel that there are people here who support them.

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“We wanted to show the LGBT community that there are people here who are caring and supportive,” Patterson said. “Living in rural South Alabama, they might feel like there would not be a lot of support.”

The pride event is planned for the university’s back quad behind the Bibb Graves building at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. Patterson said Tabitha Isner, who ran to represent Alabama’s second Congressional District in November but was defeated by Rep. Martha Roby, will be present. Neil Rafferty, the only openly gay legislator in the Alabama Legislature, and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones are also “expected to come,” Patterson said, but have not yet confirmed that they will be attending.

The event will feature free food, drag performers, speakers, and vendors. The main stage will alternate between performers and speakers, Patterson said.

Patterson said the purpose of the event is not to “point any fingers at anybody or start any political wars, but showing the community that they do have support and that they are not alone.

“A lot of people feel isolated and are going through depression,” Patterson said. “Their family doesn’t support them, friends doesn’t support them – our goal is to show them love and support. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

“We want to facilitate a sense of community and support. Some students might be struggling with their identity and whether to come out with fear that there won’t be anyone behind them, and that’s not true necessarily.”

Dr. Kelley Jewell, adviser for the event, said she is excited to show love to these students who may not feel supported.

“I teach educational diversity courses in our College of Education and I really feel that for students to be successful in college, they have to have a variety of experiences to solidify their own beliefs or look at the world a bit differently,” Jewell said. “I feel like this is a group of students who go to our university that need to have a voice and be seen, not just remain in the shadows … I’m just happy we’re showing that we love and care about everybody.”

The event is cosponsored by the Troy University College Democrats and the Troy University Spectrum Alliance.