By Jordyn Haime
Students, faculty and community members filled nearly every seat in the Granite State Room on Tuesday as they celebrated the accomplishments of UNH’s LGBTQ+ community over breakfast. Part of UNH’s Pride Month, the LGBTQ+ and Ally pancake breakfast recognized 25 years of existence.
The event opened as chaplain and director of the Waysmeet Center, Larry Brickner-Wood, and associate vice president for community, equity and diversity, Jamie Nolan, offered attendees messages of the importance of gratitude and community in current times. Current interim dean of the UNH Graduate School, Cari Moorhead, followed, recounting the history of the Pancake Breakfast.
After two years of conflict with governor at the time, Meldrim Thomson Jr., and the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the Gay Student Organization (GSO) was recognized as an official student organization in 1973.
UNH’s annual LGBTQ+ and Ally Pancake Breakfast became a tradition after the members of the GSO were denied a Pancake breakfast with Thomson they won in an auction and they decided to create their own event.
Back then, Moorhead said individuals who identified as members of the LGBTQ+ community felt pressured to attend the event in secret. Moorhead also stressed the importance of allies who have attended in the past and continue to help create a safe and inclusive environment for all students today.
Trans UNH vice president, senior Charlie Durkin, introduced the event’s keynote speaker. Gary Bailey, professor of social work and the Urban Leadership Program at Simmons College, tackled difficult topics regarding the intersectionality of race, sexuality, and gender expression.
Bailey centered his speech around the concept and significance of the Sankofa bird, which is able to look backward and forward at the same time. Using this analogy, Bailey reflected on past historical figures who have been lost in history due to their intersectional identities.
“In order for us to know where we’re going, we have to look back from whence we’ve come,” Bailey said.
Bailey reflected on important figures that have been erased from history such as writer James Baldwin, transgender people (then called “drag queens”) who were at the forefront of the Stonewall riots and Bayard Rustin, a major figure from the civil rights movement.
Bailey also discussed the importance of acknowledging intersectionality within oppressed groups, who “learn very well how to oppress because oppression has been modeled so well for them.”
According to Bailey, when research is done around the LGBTQ+ community, “…people will talk about, ‘well let’s look at the LGBT community of color’… If you have to add me in, then I wasn’t at the table when you were thinking about what constituted ‘community.’”
Bailey concluded his speech by looking optimistically to the future, encouraging attendees to “…continue looking back to look forward, so that you will ensure that future generations are going to have memories that they can be proud of, and that they can name you as the shoulders upon with they have stood and have made so much possible for them.”
A standing ovation greeted the professor as he descended from the stage.
Following the keynote speaker, the President’s Commission on the status of LGBTQ+ People members Zachary Ahmad-Kahloon and Lu Ferrell presented Kidder awards to research associate Ells Long and professor Marc Hurn, as well as to undergraduates Durkin and Audrey Johnson, all for their work in providing education and awareness around LGBTQ+ issues on campus. The commission presented Pink Triangle awards to the Social Justice Leadership Project and Campus Recreation as well.
Special recognition was also given to the several people who have resigned from the UNH counseling center this year according Ahman-Kahloon
“…For their commitment to and support of LGBTQ+ people at the University of New Hampshire,” Ahmad-Kahloon said. “They are passionate supporters and their resignations are huge losses for UNH.”
Senior women’s study major, program coordinator for Trans UNH, student facilitator for Safe Zones and a previous chair for UNH alliance Johnson has been attending the Pancake Breakfast since her sophomore year.
“It’s a chance for our whole community to come together and celebrate all the progress that we’ve made and keep looking to the future…and renew that energy to keep working on these issues,” Johnson said.