Intentional actions for inclusion: Together, we march forward this Pride Month

Every June, Pride Month comes alive in celebration, reflection and devotion to bringing awareness to the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Throughout the month, Arizona State University (ASU) highlights its dedication to inclusivity and progress on and off campus through various activities and discussions.

Learn more about resources offered at ASU

Central to these celebrations is a message of intentionality, as embodied by ASU’s LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Association (FSA). Established in 2016, the FSA began as an expansion of a 1994 association known as "UBIQUITY," which was formed in response to the political climate of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement at the time. Just a year after its inception, the Office of the Provost granted the FSA full committee status, cementing its significance as a cornerstone of equity and inclusion for LGBTQIA+ Sun Devils. 

"Historically, the queer community has been relegated to the edges of society; members of the community have always had to rely on each other for safety, support, and in many cases survival," notes Josh Thompson, president of ASU’s FSA and manager of Enterprise Technology’s Tech Studios. "The FSA helps members of the community to feel seen and heard at ASU and gives us a safe space to reflect on issues of importance to us and find support and assistance in meeting the needs of our community.

Today, the FSA holds monthly meetings and organizes events, such as the 6th annual Diamondbacks Pride Night baseball game, with the goal of bringing together ASU’s LGBTQIA+ community. These gatherings help foster community and connections among queer staff and allies, giving them a forum to share ideas and brainstorm how we may better support and foster an inclusive environment for all Sun Devils. 

Additionally, the FSA offers support to student organizations in events like Rainbow Welcome and Rainbow Convocation, ensuring ASU's diverse student body feels welcomed and celebrated. 

At ASU, inclusivity is not just a goal — it is a lived experience, woven into the fabric of our Charter that transcends everything we do, both on and off campus. Connecting diverse communities and creating environments that allow them to thrive is paramount to our mission as an equitable institution.

Making one intentional effort to inform yourself or to get involved can make all the difference.

Josh Thompson, Tech Studio Manager and President of ASU FSA

“Pride Month can be a great reason for anyone to dive into how to best support the LGBTQIA+ community,” says Thompson. “You don't have to spend every day of June immersed in LGBTQIA+ culture to make it count, but making one intentional effort to inform yourself or to get involved can make all the difference.”

In a spirit of diverse collaboration, various groups across the university — academic departments, student organizations, administrative bodies and individuals of all identities — join forces to bring awareness to ASU’s LGBTQIA+ community. They work together to ensure that Pride Month resonates throughout the campus and the wider community, heralding a commitment to diversity and acceptance.

While these celebrations and collaborative efforts showcase the strides ASU has made, they also underscore the work that remains to be done. Even as the university takes pride in its progress, it acknowledges that the journey toward greater inclusivity and equality is ongoing. Recognizing the need for continued conversations, the FSA regularly advocates to ASU leadership regarding issues facing LGBTQIA+ members of the ASU community.

“What it really boils down to is we accept everybody as a human,” explains Thompson. “It's not really about who they love, what they look like, what color their skin is, what their accent is, but it's everybody coming together as humans. We accept them from that perspective and then we engage them from that point forward.”

Addressing these challenges is an integral part of ASU’s commitment to its LGBTQIA+ community. The university, guided by the insights and experiences shared during Pride Month and beyond, continually strives to foster an environment that not only celebrates diversity but also actively works to dismantle prejudice and discrimination.

“I think we're getting really close — I think we have the right initiatives at ASU and it's just about letting that culture proliferate,” Thompson says.

Each Pride Month is not only a marker of how far the university has come but also a reaffirmation of its commitment to continue the work that needs to be done. It is a testament to the resilience and the power of an inclusive community that stands in unity, committed to progress, collaboration and — above all — a celebration of every individual’s authentic self.

“One of the beautiful things about Pride is the awareness it brings to our ASU community,” says Thompson. “Take this as an opportunity to inform yourself a little bit — maybe finding a documentary on Netflix, or sitting down with coffee with a colleague and talking to them about the way that your work impacts the queer community.”

More from the Enterprise Technology Pride community

As part of Pride Month, we are inviting our team members to share their unique perspectives, experiences and knowledge. We will be adding to this section all month long as community members offer valuable insights.

Q: What advice would you give to someone at ASU who wants to show their allyship to the LGBTQ+ community in a supportive and respectful way?

“Supportive and kind allyship can come in so many different forms,” explains Experience Center associate Socks Jiemback. “In my time at ASU, it has looked like my peers and coworkers respecting my identity and pronouns, my managers working to help me get time off and accommodations for gender-affirming healthcare, and my closest friends and team members celebrating my joy and euphoria with me. 

The most important first step is just respecting everyone's identities.

Socks Jiemback, Experience Center associate

For those unsure of where to start in the journey toward effective allyship, Socks emphasizes simple gestures to honor others’ identities: “The most important first step is just respecting everyone's identities and using their preferred pronouns. I know that, for me, this is one of the most important factors in determining who is ‘safe’ to form a closer connection with.”

For Toby Vaughn Kidd, Director of Learning Futures Studios, "Pride" is an enduring state of being: "Pride, for me, isn’t something I like to think of as a limited time frame but rather a constant presence," He says. "Pride month itself is a heightened opportunity to promote acceptance, reflect on the battles that were fought before, and find new ways to resist the narrative that excludes, marginalizes, and promotes hate."

Kidd emphasizes the significance of Pride as a signal of greater acceptance, support, and freedom to be oneself, recalling: "I didn’t grow up in an environment where it was okay to be gay. Pride was always an indicator for me that there was a different conversation happening where it wasn’t only okay but also supportive. A place for you to be proud and outspoken."

Showing support through attending a SafeZONE training, learning about and amplifying common issues faced by LGBT people in society, donating to an LGBT organization with a message you support, or even just wearing a rainbow pin or making supportive statements are all awesome ways to show allyship and acceptance.

Toby Vaughn Kidd, Director of Learning Futures Studios