Second annual Pridefest boasts huge turnout

Photo by Dana Wehmann

Students of the LGBTQ+ community and allies gathered in the Grove to celebrate inclusivity and diversity on Wednesday at Ramapo College’s second annual Pridefest.

In celebration of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, The Women’s Center and the Office of Equity and Diversity Programs partnered with many on-campus organizations to set up tables that presented programs and pride merch to students.

Senior Berly Rivera, the Women’s Center’s Student Queer Peer Services Coordinator, was most enthusiastic about getting new students involved and fostering an inclusive community for all who participated in Pridefest.

Junior Gabrielle Bok, the Lead Queer Peer Services Coordinator at the Women’s Center, said making Pridefest inclusive for everyone meant getting support from student organizations representative of minorities and people of color who often lack equal representation in LGBTQ+ culture.

In planning the second Pridefest, Rivera said they succeeded in involving more student organizations and on-campus clubs this year. Next year, they hope to gather support from more off-campus organizations.

One table displayed different on-campus resources available at the Women’s Center, Health and Counseling Services and Office of Violence Prevention, that LGBTQ+ students can utilize.

“There are some awesome resources [here],” said freshman Tori D’amico, noting that Ramapo has a name change service on campus for trans students who may prefer to be called a different name in class.

“I love every and any pride event,” D’amico said, “I’m so glad Ramapo supports this.”

Flags and pins of each identity were available to students, along with T-shirts that declare “Ramapo Pride.”

Ramapo’s roadrunner mascot Fledge also wore a pride pin and greeted students by waving the pansexual flag.

Senior Kyle Ferlita was one of many resident assistants at the Residence Life table, helping students create potted plant crafts. “I love the inclusivity of it all and just being able to be yourself,” he said. “That’s the big thing especially on this campus that I love.”

Students and faculty crowded around the stage beneath the Arch to see the headlining Drag Queen, Shequida Hall, lip-sync classic songs and joke with the crowd.

She took a serious moment to respond to the negative attitudes of people who question the importance of pride parades and festivals.

“We should be able to do whatever we want, be whoever we want, dress however we want to in a free society. That is the ultimate definition of freedom ladies and gentlemen,” Hall said.

Hall’s performance empowered students from beginning to end, as she encouraged students of all identities to have confidence in who they are. By the end of her performance, she climbed atop the stone steps in the Grove to sing and dance with students.

“We love the turnout,” said senior Tuba Farooqui, a Faith and Spirituality Peer Educator for the Office of Equity and Diversity. “We hope this continues on to be a Ramapo tradition, and that everyone in the LGBTQ+ community gets to show their support.”