American University PRIDE, previously known as Queers and Allies, decided to make a name change this fall after taking a poll of its members. The new name is more representative of the community and unity amongst the queer and trans community, according to the group’s executive director, Jeffrey Andrés Guzmán.
More than the traditional meaning of LGBT pride, the club’s title stands for “People Respecting Individual Diversity Everywhere.” PRIDE seeks to increase allyship with the queer community and create a more inclusive environment with the name change, Guzmán said.
“There needs to be allyship within the community itself because there’s a lot of racism and transphobia that goes on within the community and so that's why we changed the name,” Guzmán said.
The club hopes to increase unity and create a more welcoming environment, said Austin Ellis, PRIDE’s community coordinator for queer and progressive men.
“It's a little hard at AU, because since there is such a large queer community, a lot of people make their own friend groups and branch off,” Ellis said. “My role is to bring people together, and create a warmer atmosphere.”
Through special events like Queer Halloween and weekly meetups for different groups within the queer community, Guzmán hopes to increase visibility and unity for the LGBT community at AU.
“We’re known as ‘GayU’ but because the community is so segmented, we’re often not as visible or as unified as we could be,” Guzmán said. “Visibility is important to make people realize we're not just here to be your gay best friend or up the diversity stats at AU, we have issues we want to address.”
The club is focusing on increasing gender neutral bathrooms, like the ones already in place in the Mary Graydon Center, and gender neutral housing. Additionally, PRIDE wants increased accessibility to mental health treatment.
Guzmán laid out four principles for the club to expand on this year: advocacy, community, education and networking. With those values in mind, PRIDE is reaching out to other organizations on campus to focus on intersectionality.
“You don't have to choose one identity,” Guzmán said. ”You can be Latinx and queer you can be a POC and trans.”
They are also planning panels led by people representing a spectrum of marginalized communities, including LGBT people, to educate AU’s queer community about their experiences.
“That representation is important to see that there are good functioning queer professionals in business and marketing,” Ellis said.“That would have really helped me to see as a freshman.”
Though the group has undergone a rebranding, Guzmán said PRIDE’s core goals have remained the same.
“The connotation of PRIDE is a more uplifting space, to show more of what we're about,” Guzmán said. “Our values are the same. Now the name just reflects that.”