Proud Missouri

LGBTQ individuals from across the state come together for Show Me Pride College Summit.

Photo of Columns overlayed by rainbow gradient color.

Story by Madi Baughman
Art by Whitney Pierce

When we think of “pride events,” we often think of parades, dinners, rallies, or something else of that sort. However, pride events can also come in the form of a statewide conference — or unconference, as in the case of the Show Me Pride College Summit.

Every year, Show Me Pride provides a safe space for college students and faculty all over the state of Missouri to discuss topics in our community and come together to solve problems.

Ciara Pate is a sophomore at her second year in UMKC, and she has expressed a huge love for attending pride conferences.

“No matter how many I go to, I always feel I learn something from other people’s experiences and input,” Pate said.

Claire Reel, a junior at UMSL, attended the conference as a member of UMSL’s LGBTQ student group, Prism. It was her second time attending, and says that it inspires her to do more in her community back home.

“I felt an amazing sense of community while I was there,” Reel said. “I’m excited to do more work in the community and take back what I learned to my GSA.”

However, Show-Me Pride isn’t just a place of celebration — it’s also a place of learning. With dozens of different sessions and caucuses to attend, there’s something to learn for everybody, no matter their own personal identity or circumstances.

“One thing that I knew already but I am still interested about was the fact that many bisexual people and trans people are still being left out and not seen as full community members,” Reel said. “This breaks my heart. We need to keep rallying with them and making sure they are included in everything we as a community do and let them know they are valid, seen, and loved.”

Learning more about the community is more than just remembering different identities — it’s often about the places where these identities meet, and how dealing with people from many different identities can be complex.

“From show me pride this year, I think I took away just how much people are struggling with their intersectionality,” Pate said. “I was in two forums with students from Rockhurst, a university only a block away from UMKC, and they discussed just how difficult it was being a person of color and a part of the LGBT community. This conference has inspired myself, as well as many others from UMKC, to reach out to these individuals to help them feel welcomed for all their intersections.”

Above all, the conference provides a great place to make connections and encourage students and faculty alike to become more involved in their communities. While some schools are fortunate enough to have a whole center dedicated to the LGBTQ community with paid staff, some schools may have no place to go, but very passionate students. Whatever the situation, the conference is a place to come together to push for the change we’d like to see at a community level, as well as a national level.

The importance of the conference may be summed up best by Molly Hart, a student coordinator at the LGBTQ Resource Center at MU.

“I would say that it’s easy to kind of forget that we’re doing work in the community, because a lot of times it’s just like hanging out with my friends, but then you see that the resources we’re providing and the topics we’re discussing are actually really important,” Hart said. “It’s pretty empowering to realize that we can make that difference in people’s lives.”

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Tapestry.