Pride Fest brings Harper’s LGBTQ+ community together


The Harper Dance team strikes a pose at the second annual Pride Fest event. (Photo by Maham Khan)

A diverse group of students and staff gathered in Building A’s student center lounge on Tuesday, October 11 for Harper College’s second annual Pride Fest, armed with pride flags and rainbows aplenty. Centerpieces of the event included speeches from Robyn Hill, an instructor for the Academy of Teaching Excellence, as well as student leaders, followed by a lively performance from the Harper Dance Team. 

According to participants, the second annual Pride Fest isn’t just another event  – it’s a symbol of the progress they’ve made as a community. When asked what this event meant to them, Sophia, a queer student attendee, said it feels great to not “have to fear being in a group.” 

Groups at the fest included SAFE ERG, an LGBTQ+ member/ally staff support group, the Pride Club and the Kenneth Young Center, an organization that provides counseling and support for LGBTQ+ youth. Each had their own stand, handing out stickers, pride flags, fun pens, pins, Skittles and plenty more goodies. 

SAFE ERG member Virginia McHugh-Kurtz believes that all students should receive acceptance and support, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“As a parent of a child in the LGTBQ+ community, it’s very important that I support my child no matter what, but then also I know that a lot of students need support and they might not get that at home,” McHugh-Kurtz said. “And so I’m here as an ally, not just for my child but for my students and even my coworkers too.”

To commemorate National Coming Out Day, student engagement set up a door in the middle of the lounge to symbolize the difficult journey of coming out. On their return from the march around the quad, students passed through the door to supportive cheers from their peers. 

“For a lot of people, it [coming out] is a difficult experience, and we wanted it to be a celebration at Harper,” Erin Morettes, one of the event’s organizers, said. 

Robyn Hill, who is nonbinary and goes by they/them pronouns, said events like these are imperative for the LGBTQ+ community. Their community has flourished in the past and present because they work together, they said. 

They credited their ancestors, the most impactful of which were black queer people, for pioneering revolutions for the LGBTQ+ people throughout history. According to Hill, without people like Bayard Rustin and Lorraine Hansberry, the LGBTQ+ community would not be where it is today.

“We’re here today not because we’re new, but because our long history, our ancestors, enabled us to live and thrive anew,” Hill said.