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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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SDSU President Elliot Hirshman in front of the Rainbow Flag SDSU President Elliot Hirshman in front of the Rainbow Flag

Standing with the LGBTQ+ Community

The 9th annual Rainbow Flag Raising Ceremony kicks off July 13 in advance of the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade.
By Mallory Black

Its vibrant rainbow colors have come to symbolize pride and diversity within the LGBTQ+ community, and its raising marks an important event on San Diego State University’s campus each year: It is the Rainbow Flag.

For nearly a decade, the Rainbow Flag Raising Ceremony has celebrated the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities in the community. This year’s event, which takes place on July 13 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union flagpole, works in conjunction with the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade to increase visibility of the LGBTQ+ community throughout the Greater San Diego region.

While the flag raising is a celebration, Pride Center Coordinator Christopher Lujan said this year’s ceremony will also be a memorial to those who lost their lives lost during the shooting at an Orlando gay club on June 12.

“Any time certain situations like this happen, the LGBTQ+ community looks for support within the greater community, and this year’s flag raising ceremony is an important opportunity for everybody to heal,” Lujan said. “This event is also an outlet for us to start thinking about and understand what’s next for our movement."

Lujan emphasized that safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students at SDSU also extend beyond the Pride Center to the entire campus.  

“It’s not often that a campus has as much support for the LGBTQ+ community as SDSU does,” Lujan said. “This is a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, and I think that really speaks to their ability to be successful at SDSU. When students feel safe, they’re able to move forward and do well academically.”

Celebrating the LGBTQ+ Community

English major Lou Tabalon, identifies as transgender non-binary, which refers to any gender not exclusively male or female, and prefers to be addressed by the pronouns they, them or theirs.

Tabalon has worked in the Pride Center since it opened its doors in 2014. They said being an active member of the LGBTQ+ community on campus has helped them explore their identity, learn from others and have hope for the future.

The flag raising ceremony and Pride Parade are great ways to learn about varying gender identities and sexual orientations, while having fun at the same time, according to Tabalon.

“At the Pride Parade, you get to see friends, make new ones, and really see the fun side of the LGBTQ+ community,” Tabalon said. “The celebration, the empowerment, the history, the wonder — I get to share that with so many people. These events make me feel like I have a family, like I belong somewhere."

Eric Rivera, vice president of Student Affairs, said the Pride Center is a vital resource for many SDSU students. 

"Since its opening, the Pride Center has become a vibrant and inclusive community center on campus," he said. "When students feel a sense of belonging, they have the capacity to grow academically and personally. The center serves as source of real connection, which creates an affinity to the university long after graduation.”

SDSU Delegation at San Diego Pride Parade

Each year, an SDSU delegation participates in the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade. This year’s delegation will include Rivera, representing Student Affairs, President Elliot Hirshman and more than 100 Aztec community members.

The Pride Center is encouraging students, faculty, staff and alumni to join the SDSU Pride Parade Delegation on July 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Hillcrest. Space is limited, but those interested in participating or volunteering can register on the Pride Center’s website.

Leader in LGBT studies

In 2012, SDSU was the second university in the country to establish a major for LGBT studies, and the first in the California State University system. Since then, the program has grown, now offering a minor, major and graduate certificate. The program recently received a $100,000 gift from local philanthropist David Gubser to establish an endowed scholarship for LGBT majors. Gubser also donated $100,000 to the Pride Center.

Top 25 LGBT-friendly universities

SDSU has ranked among the top 25 LGBT-friendly universities in the nation for six consecutive years. The ranking is based on the Campus Pride Index, a tool that compares LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices on college campuses.