Got Pride? El Camino College kicks off Pride Month with annual festival


Biochemistry major Lili Nemzer tables for the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) on June 1 at the Student Services Plaza. (Nindiya Maheswari | The Union)

Among the flurry of balloons and bubbles, students and faculty came together at the Student Services Plaza to celebrate the first day of Pride Month on June 1.

The event was part of a week-long celebration presented by the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and Student Equity & Achievement clubs to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community.

Part-time English and behavioral science professor Sarah Leinen also serves as the adviser to the GSA and has been coordinating Pride Week since its establishment in 2019.

Leinen said she was excited to see the event celebrated in person again after the pandemic shut it down in 2020 but also highlighted the importance of these celebrations.

“We need things like this for any marginalized group to celebrate and to remember where we’ve come from, where we need to go,” Leinen said. “It’s a celebration, but it’s also learning, a caucus, all kinds of experiences.

With pride events happening through the weekend, GSA President Shay Chandler is excited to share their idea for a pride prom happening on June 3.

“I’m super excited about that because it’s gonna be a fun dance but also a place for a lot of people that didn’t get to have a prom because of COVID-19,” Chandler said. “Even people who did, a lot of them weren’t able to express themselves in a way (they) wanted to or wear clothes they wanted to wear or the date they wanted.”

Faculty and outreach librarian Camilla Jenkin poses next to the book on Thursday, June 1, at the student services plaza. The on-the-go resource reflects a collection of books based on the event and information for students.
Faculty and Outreach Librarian Camilla Jenkin poses next to the book on June 1 at the Student Services Plaza. The on-the-go resource reflects a collection of books based on the event and information for students. (Nindiya Maheswari | The Union) 

In a show of outpouring support, campus offices, including EOPS, dual enrollment, the Humanities Division and library services, tabled the event, among others.

Faculty and outreach librarian Camilla Jenkin managed the Book Bike, which has appeared across campus.

The on-the-go resource reflects a collection of books based on the event and, this time, included works focused on LGBTQIA+ identity, history, authors and stories.

However, Jenkin wanted to stress the importance of privacy and anonymity when checking out any reading material.

“When you read at the library, we are never collecting your reading data,” Jenkin said. “We do not give it out, what you read is your business, and we’re always going to support your privacy.”

Citing the American Library Association, Jenkin spoke on the book challenges nationwide where titles are removed or banned, especially those centered around LGBTQIA+ content.

Two examples were present on the Book Bike display: “Beyond Magenta” by Susan Kuklin and “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson.

“We bring it out here because we want to remind everyone, all the students, all our co-workers, that you have a right to access these materials,” Jenkin said. “We’re grateful to work at a college that this kind of mission is baked into the college’s mission, and it’s very important to us because what we collect is to support the college’s mission.”

As the event ended, Theatre Educator and Arts Administrator Nathan Singh focused on the importance of community and these events.

“As a community college where we often just come to class, do our things, and then just leave, it’s amazing to get to the root of what community means, which is coming together to learn from each other,” Singh said. “It’s a moment of celebration …we’re all learning from each other, and that’s a beautiful thing.”