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Leah’s Lens: Pride cannot and will not be erased

Leahs+Lens%3A+Pride+cannot+and+will+not+be+erased
Rian Hughes

For years, App State has been a university in which students who identify as LGBTQ+ feel safe and can freely express themselves. It has been an inclusive environment for all, providing a nonjudgmental space full of like minded individuals. At least, until now. 

Whether it be the renaming of Pride Week, drag artists no longer being able to perform at university events or the mysterious termination of four employees who identify as LGBTQ+, all signs point to the erasure of said safe space. One would think that a public university would become more progressive as time passed, but App State is doing the opposite. 

Though it is only four months into 2024, the year has shaped up to be both a monumental and terrifying year for thousands of U.S. residents. With the upcoming presidential election mirroring that of 2020 as Trump and Biden take center stage, it is difficult to not worry about the future of the country. Trump has already stated his plans to erase all progress within the LGBTQ+ community, including redacting legislation that protects the community. 

Through the instability of the national political climate, it is extremely important to have a more stable environment one can turn to during tough times. College campuses act as this environment for many, as well as somewhere they can be themselves with no judgment.

Many LGBTQ+ children and young adults do not feel safe in their own home, whether that be because of those they live with, the political climate of their hometown or their community. Often, these young adults cannot wait to leave, and going to college is their first opportunity to do just that. The second Pride Week was changed to Spring Fest, App State administration single handedly took this safe space away.

One reason for the name change was so it could be more inclusive for those who do not identify with the LGBTQ+ community — this seems much more like a sorry excuse than a real reason. The week is supposed to be all about queer representation and inclusivity, two things that those who are not within the community get every other week in the year. 

The name change was not the only attack on the LGBTQ+ community that App State has dropped on their students in the last few weeks. The Boone Barbies, a local drag group that has performed at multiple university sponsored events, recently learned that “drag related events have recently been canceled or de-queered by Appalachian State University.” It is very difficult to not think there was malicious intent behind this when the group was never explicitly told, but rather had to figure it out on their own.

This news was met with immediate backlash from the student body, and rightfully so. There is absolutely no excuse for no longer allowing drag shows and it is repulsive that administration cannot even offer an explanation. 

Thousands of students came to App State ecstatic to finally be in a place where they feel comfortable to be themselves — it was ripped out from under them before they knew what was happening. The censoring of LGBTQ+ events and the community is unacceptable, and those responsible for the decision should feel ashamed of themselves.

The news even made Teen Vogue, giving App State national attention, though not the kind upper administrators would like to see. There are anti-DEI bills being passed in other Republican states, and some think the recent censorship at App State may be correlated. 

The Diversity and Inclusion page contains a quote from the chancellor, reading “At App State, we believe making real and powerful differences in the world is grounded in diversity and inclusion of thought, belief, and community.” It seems as if this is currently being translated to “We care about you and your wellbeing as long as you aren’t an art student or LGBTQ+.”

The App State community will not stop fighting against the censorship and maltreatment of thousands of students. Changing the name of a week will not suppress the LGBTQ+ community, nor will it stop the fight against administration. The malevolence of those responsible for these decisions is being called out by more than just the students now, and should remain that way until a solution is found. 

The question remains, how many more national news sources have to cover what’s happening before administration finally deems LGBTQ+ lives worthy of equity and inclusion? Or, better yet, would a change of heart simply be yet another example of App State’s excruciatingly obvious performative activism? 

To those who are responsible: unfortunately for you, no matter how hard you try, you cannot and will not erase pride.

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About the Contributors
Leah Boone
Leah Boone, Opinion Editor
Leah Boone (she/her/hers) is a junior chemistry major. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
Rian Hughes
Rian Hughes, Associate Graphics Editor
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    SusieApr 9, 2024 at 7:09 am

    “Pride” has historically been one of the seven deadly sins. Is it possible the renaming will increase the chance of conversations among people who don’t already support this minority?

    Reply