Montclair State University’s Office for Social Justice and Diversity hosted a celebration of National Coming Out Day and the start of LGBTQIA+ History Month with the raising of the pride flag on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
Students, staff and faculty filled the student center flagpoles for this special event, ready to support the speakers of the evening.
Speakers included individuals from different organizations and departments on campus such as the gender, sexuality and women’s studies program, Office for Social Justice and Diversity and student development and campus life.
Each speech highlighted the importance of the flag raising, recognition of historical figures within the LGBTQ+ community and the acceptance and love each speaker has felt here at Montclair State.
Dawn Soufleris, vice president of student development and campus life, shared her own story about her daughter coming out, ending with a message for all Montclair State students.
“We love you, we see you, we value you, you belong here and you are safe,” Soufleris said.
The event saw a good turnout from students, as the crowd surrounding the flagpole began to expand as speeches went on.
Na’Dree Stewart, a senior anthropology major, said this event allowed everyone to embrace who they are.
“To me, this means a sense of authenticity,” Stewart said. “Allowing people to walk free within themselves without judgment and live this life in the happiest way possible.”
Max McFadden, a junior animation/illustration major who also spoke at the event, praised the campus’ inclusivity.
“It’s really great to have solidarity from the campus itself because so many people across the country are not lucky enough to have that,” McFadden said. “I’m so glad that Montclair [State] has been so supportive and welcoming. I’ve never felt really unsafe here being who I am.”
Ashlie, a senior justice studies major who asked for her last name not to be used, explained that the event meant a lot to her in terms of acceptance.
“To me, it means living in my truth and everyone living in their truth,” Ashlie said. “I feel like when you’re on a campus as accepting as this it kind of boggles my mind. When I go home the community isn’t that accepting, but Montclair State just feels like one big family.”
Montclair State has received national recognition across multiple outlets as a top school for LGBTQ+ members of the campus community and continues to exemplify its dedication through events like this.