Last week, various ETSU departments and student organizations including the likes of Diversity Educators, Engineering and Technology, Multicultural Affairs and SAGA hosted the university’s first Pride Festival, a monument to growing LGBTQ awareness and celebration on campus. There were two Pride events at the D.P. Culp University Center on April 13 and 14.
“The fact that ETSU has never held Pride Festivals in the past despite its large LGBT community prompted us to create this festival,” said ETSU Pride Festival Director Glenda Swartz. “When a freshman student approached me and said they almost didn’t come to ETSU because of the lack of Pride Festivals, I realized that we needed to do something…We have to show people that ETSU has an accepting campus community.”
The April 13 event took place in the Culp Center Cave. From 1:00-5:00 p.m. members of groups such as Diversity Educators, the ETSU Emergency Response Group and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition manned various booths. Their tables sported signs featuring statements like “Kindness rocks at ETSU.” In a casual setting, attendants discussed and learned about a wide variety of LGBT+ topics.
The primary Pride Festival event was held at the first floor of the Culp Center from 12:00-8:00 p.m. on April 14. Throughout the day, the diverse group of attendants enjoyed a welcoming environment set to the music of local artists like Daniel Byrd and Daniel Couper. Local culinary establishments such as BBQ Pete’s, Carribean Grill and Jessica’s Sugar Shack brought trucks providing food for the event.
“We’re looking forward to the community enjoying the festival,” Swartz said prior to the event. “We’re also looking forward to seeing history be made, something that is very rare for a campus like this.”
“The Pride Festival will be a yearly event from this point forward,” Swartz said. “We’re hoping it will be something students look forward to just as much as the Civility Series or Bucstock. We want the LGBT community on campus to get excited for the Pride Festival every April.”