In our global education programs, we love to celebrate and educate our participants about diversity, particularly that which exists in the United States. Large cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and so on, are home to people from many walks of life. People come to these cities from various states and countries for different reasons. They celebrate many cultures, but they live together and create diverse communities.
One group that celebrates diversity in a unique way is the LGBTQ+ community. Their history is a long one, though in American history, the Stonewall Riots in 1969 are considered to be a huge turning point in the movement. The mistreatment that the community received hit a peak in New York’s Greenwich Village, leading to the formation of the Gay Liberation Front, the Gay Activists Alliance, and eventually, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Gay Pride.
Throughout history, we have seen an unfortunate number of incidents where minorities were treated poorly and denied basic human rights, simply because of their differences. This caused many to shy away from their heritage, their culture, and their true identities.
However, Pride is a wonderful acknowledgement of the LGBTQ community and its diversity. What began as a march for equal rights has evolved into even more than that—a celebration of love and identity. People who once were afraid to come out now use Pride as a time to enjoy the community and experience a sense of belonging. This is not to say that things are perfect—unfortunately, there are still many steps to take to give the LGBTQ+ community equal rights both in the United States and throughout the world.
That being said, now more than ever, we can openly celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and culture, as well as educate one another. LGBTQ+ also overlaps into other minorities, creating new subgroups and communities. Wherever you go, there are people waiting to welcome you with open arms.
That is, I think, one of the most wonderful things about diversity. Instead of fearing what we don’t know, when we are educated and make an effort to learn about the communities around us, we can find happiness and a sense of belonging in places that we never would have found before. I know that I, among many others, have found that in the LGBTQ+ community, and it is because of that sense of belonging that Pride can keep going today.
GPI US hopes to promote this sense of diversity in all of its programs. Just like the LGBTQ+ community, we aim to create a comfortable space for our students to learn about themselves and grow not only on an academic plane, but also as human beings. Providing opportunities for emotional intimacy is not only our job, but our joy! While some students may come from environments where they could not find a sense of belonging or acceptance, we hope to teach them that they have a safe space with us, and that they can create a community for themselves, too!
The world may have a long way to go until it becomes more accepting and thoughtful, but we hope to cultivate students who will be leaders in that future society, no matter where they go!
*New York’s Pride was on June 30th this year — keep an eye out for pictures and videos on social media to join in on the fun!