Pridefest celebrates Ramapo’s LGBTQ+ community

The Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Services held Ramapo’s sixth annual Pridefest on Oct. 11, which happened to be National Coming Out Day. The afternoon was filled with activities to celebrate Ramapo’s vibrant LGBTQIA+ community. On-campus and local organizations had tables in the Grove to support the community and promote involvement. 

“I feel like this event is very needed, more than ever right now, with all of the anti-LGBTQ legislation out there and all of the resistance. I think all of this event really goes to show that representation matters, especially on small college campuses, like this one,” said Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Services Coordinator Alex Woods. “We’re so happy to be out and proud and to be ourselves.”

Dean of Students Melissa Van Der Wall added, “Pridefest is a strong community builder, which I am most honored and proud to be part of, as a space to celebrate and support the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.  As the College continues to create visible space for all identities, I am so grateful to my teammates in the Student Well-Being Core — Alex Woods, Marie Attis, Rick Brown and the Women Center student staff — for designing a place for all to express themselves as they wish and be valued.”

Pridefest was full of free treats, including cupcakes, assorted drinks and plenty of merchandise. Photo by Jessica C. Gray

The multicultural women’s organization healingSPACE, which fights for racial equality, gender equity and the empowerment of survivors of sexual violence, had a table at the event. healingSPACE’s Sexual Violence Prevention Education Coordinator Dana Carter said she came “to show support to the LGBTQIA+ community and to also let them know that there are services available if there is ever a need.” These resources include LGBTQ+ therapists who can help struggling members of the community.

Founder and Director of Mahwah Pride Coalition Susan Steinberg spoke about Mahwah Pride’s mission “ [to help] provide visibility for the LGBTQ community, [especially for those who] live, work and go to school in Mahwah, and also providing education.”

Empowerment and intersectionality were prevalent themes. The Center for Reading and Writing offered information about and poems by Audre Lorde, an early advocate for intersectional feminism.

Ramapo’s Association for Latinos Moving Ahead (ALMA) tabled with the purpose of supporting queer Latin Americans. “ALMA is here to represent a side of the Latin community that is often misrepresented, misunderstood and unseen,” said President of ALMA Allison Contreras-Ortiz. 

Contreras-Ortiz explained how her pride in Latinidad and in her queer identity coexist. “Intersectionality applies with almost everything that happens throughout our lives… from the way we identify ourselves to the way that our socioeconomic state raised us, to the way that our education and workplace affected us.”

Intersectionality is made possible through education and togetherness at events like Pridefest. Sophomore Joseph Selby was grateful for what the day represented.

“It’s to bring awareness, provide knowledge, and show a sense of community… I feel like there’s not that many events on campus where gays can just all hang out and meet each other aside from the discussion events at the Women’s Center,” they said.

Pridefest’s main attraction was the drag performance. Delaware-based drag queen Onyx Black took the stage at 2:30 p.m. She performed three numbers rife with audience interaction and invited three students to compete in a lip sync battle. The highlight of her performance was an unscripted moment where, to fill time during technical difficulties, she shared her journey coming out as a gay man.

Onyx Black came out at the age of 21, inspired by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestants. “That show gave me a lot of courage… It’s shows like that and it’s organizations like this that give hope to the next generation and give people courage to be brave.”

Her final number was Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” Attendees cheered as she gave her closing remarks. “I want you guys to all remember when you go out into this crazy world that kindness is free… Spread kindness, have fun and laugh. It’s free!” &


Featured photo by Jessica C. Gray