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10 Years of the Pride Center

Pride Center staff and students celebrate the center’s 10th anniversary with an anniversary party; notes the possibility for the next 10 years of the center.

This year has been a year full of celebration and the Pride Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary. I sat down with Bonnie Johnson, the coordinator for the Pride Center, to discuss the impact and the future for the center.

Bonnie Johnson, coordinator of the Pride Center

Bonnie Johnson, coordinator of the Pride Center

The goal of the Pride Center is to empower students. This can be done in several different ways — by helping students discover and explore their identities, offering a space for people to safely ask questions and figure out who they are, educating the community about sexuality and gender in a meaningful manner, and by building a community for students to connect with others in the LGBTQ+ community.

Bonnie continues by saying, “A lot of our students are wanting to connect with others that have had the same experiences and have similar identities. They are able to talk about what that means, what it looks like for them in their own lives, and what it looks like as a larger community.” The impact that the center has had on LGBTQ+ students is significant. It’s a community gathering point where students can be supported by faculty, staff, and friends. Students build connections and friendships that last a lifetime. In Bonnie’s case, she continues to be friends with people she met during her time as a student. She understands that finding these connections can help students in their own journeys, not only as members of the LGBTQ+ community but as UT students.

The center has had many great memories and initiatives over the past 10 years. Bonnie’s favorite memories are all about students. “I love meeting new people and being able to interact with every student; everyone brings such a different personality and perspective,” she said. When deciding to return to UT in this role, she explains she wanted to give back to the community, “My motto has always been ‘I want to be the person I needed as a student’ and I wanted to be an advocate.”

What really means a lot to Bonnie are the little moments of joy and education with someone.

This is done through Safe Zone, a campus-wide program series that aims to improve the campus climate for the LGBTQ+ community through education and advocacy.

“My motto has always been ‘I want to be the person I needed as a student’ and I wanted to be an advocate.”

Bonnie Johnnson, Pride Center

The training continues to grow year-to-year, with sessions offered each semester. Bonnie adds, “I’m proud we are able to do this work and happy we can keep growing and reaching new students.”

This anniversary is monumental for the Pride Center, and Bonnie and her team will be celebrating in a big way. The center will be hosting an anniversary celebration on Tuesday, February 25 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in HSS Plaza with cupcakes, T-shirts, and other goodies with another celebration in the fall.

“It’s exciting to see what the future holds for the center,” Bonnie notes, “We’re very hopeful and excited about the potential of the center in the future.” The center is hoping to interact and reach more students across campus and hopes to expand its space and staff in order to continue educational outreach and promoting inclusivity in the college community.

The Pride Center is more than just a place, it’s a community for LGBTQ+ students to build relationships, a brave space for students to discover themselves, and a program that promotes allyship with marginalized groups, inclusivity on campus, and other educational opportunities. Celebrating departments like the Pride Center is important for this campus that holds so many intertwining identities.

Bailey Ly smiling at the cameraBailey Ly is a sophomore majoring in public relations with a minor in business administration. She is the undergraduate public relations intern for Student Life  Communications. Bailey is also the marketing chair for Campus Events Board Arts and Culture. She loves cooking and learning about new cultures.

February 21, 2020