LGBTQ+ students gather, support each other during PrideFest
Caroline Collins | Monday, March 27, 2023
Over the weekend, Notre Dame student government hosted PrideFest, a three-day series of gatherings for members and allies of the LGBTQ+ campus community.
The programming began Thursday afternoon with a lunch and learn session, followed in the evening by a LGBTQ+ remembrance vigil and a LGBTQ+ Acousticafe.
Friday’s “Queer Joy” student panel featured undergraduate, graduate and law school students who talked about their experiences as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
The panel was moderated by senior Matt Heilman, who posed questions to the panelists about how they discovered their sexuality, what resources they have utilized on campus and advice for prospective LGBTQ+ students applying to Notre Dame.
Each of the students shared their personal experiences on campus and reflected on how their identity has shaped their time at Notre Dame.
“It’s so interesting to hear about how everyone has learned about their identity in different ways and has different stories, and every story is important,” Heilman said.
The panelists also discussed organizations on campus they feel are safe spaces that allow them to be their true selves.
Sophomore Connor Marrott explained how he was able to find a sense of community at Notre Dame by getting involved with LGBTQ+ advocacy groups on campus.
“It is possible to find your community here at Notre Dame, you just have to want that reality,” Marrott said. “And meeting people that have really similar experiences kind of creates a sense of solidarity.”
Senior Francine Graham said she appreciates Show Some Skin, an organization that performs monologues written by students about experiences of discrimination or feeling like not belonging on campus, whether that be due to race, ethnicity, language barriers, gender identity or sexuality.
“I think that’s been very valuable for me to interact in a space where everyone has something that brings [them] together, even if it’s not the same thing,” Graham said.
The students acknowledged that while not everyone on campus may be accepting of LGBTQ+ students, there are allies and administrators who are supportive.
Nicholas Yanek, an MBA student, said it is important to navigate and determine who those supporters are and lean into them during hard moments.
The panelists also touched upon the idea that Catholic teaching and queer affirmation go hand in hand with one another.
“Jesus’ message is all about love,” junior Mae Harkins said. “And I think there are very few other communities, if any, that are built exclusively on love like the queer community because we just want to be able to love people as we feel is right and love people as we are and for who they are.”
PrideFest concluded Saturday with Pride Outside, which was moved inside to Duncan Student Center due to inclement weather. At the event, representatives from the University Counseling Center and Center for Student Support and Care chatted with students about University resources for the LGBTQ+ community.
Student body president Patrick Lee and his staff also distributed flowers provided by Irish Gardens.
PrismND hosted a “LGBTQ+ Legacies” art showcase in the Jordan Hall Galleria later Saturday afternoon. The showcase featured artwork by LGBTQ+ students in a variety of different mediums, from drawings to short films.
Peter Breen contributed to the reporting of this story.