This month, the Gender and Sexuality Center’s peer facilitation program Peers for Pride will celebrate its 10-year anniversary.
Peers for Pride is a two-semester LGBTQ-centered course giving students the opportunity to use skills including theatre and critical analysis to create the workshop “What Do Thriving Queer Communities Look Like?”
Peers for Pride will celebrate its 10th final performance and workshop on April 29 in the Black Box Theater at the Student Activity Center.
“It’s really a significant program that is very unlike other peer educator programs,” Quỳnh-Hương Ngọc Nguyễn, the assistant director of the Gender and Sexuality Center, said. “Much of the work the students are doing is building workshops and facilitation skills while also building a space for LGBT communities and folks who support the community.”
Shane Whalley, the founder for Peers for Pride and former Gender and Sexuality Center educational coordinator, created this program 10 years ago without knowing the impact it would have on students or how long the program would last. Now, ze said that hir former students have become hir extended family.
“When we come out as LGBT, we don’t get a manual and immediately learn all about our identities, history and politics,” Whalley said.
Whalley said ze intended to create a program for students to learn more about the LGBTQ community, to build skills they could take with them after college and to have a safe space for LGBTQ students.
Deanna Kilgore, a former student who participated in the 2011–2012 cohort of Peers for Pride, said the program was very fulfilling, and it made her feel proactive in the community.
“It was incredibly rewarding to have that community meet regularly and to talk about queer literature and issues,” Kilgore said. “(Peers for Pride) is giving people in these marginalized communities a chance to share their stories and what’s important to them and why it matters.”
Now that the program is 10 years old, Nguyễn said it has undergone many changes based on each cohort that has come and gone every year.
“The program and the anniversary shows how we have come a long way as a UT community to continue the efforts in support of LGBTQIA+ folks,” Nguyễn said. “And (Peers for Pride) is continuing a conversation, because it’s a conversation about giving back to our community while also supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.”