The Pride Center for Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity exists to build a just, equitable world through community building and the pursuit of change. We work to create a world where people of all genders and sexualities are able to thrive as their full, authentic selves.
We commit to the belief that all oppressions are interlinked, and that we cannot work toward liberation for LGBTQ+ communities unless liberation for all marginalized communities is centered.
We commit to educating and empowering our campus constituents to develop as change agents who act as intentional allies and advocates for all marginalized communities.
We commit to excellence by ensuring that the Pride Center's work is theoretically grounded and data-driven.
Annual Intentional Focus
The Pride Center grounds our work in the belief that all oppressions are interlinked, and that we cannot work toward liberation for LGBTQ+ communities unless liberation for all marginalized communities is centered. For the past two years, we have chosen to operationalize this commitment by intentionally focusing on an area of intersectional justice. From a deep dive into racial justice & decolonization in 2017-2018, disability justice in 2018-2019 and two years 2019-20/2020-21 deeply focused on prison abolition, we have been challenged critically, grown immensely, and fiercely deepened our work and our commitment. We are grateful to each of you for joining us in these commitments.
In 2021-2022, we have chosen to focus intentionally on It's a Queer World:global queer stories, histories, lived experiences. This focus compels us to move beyond western notions of queerness and challenges us to consider queerness across the world. We will be taking a deep dive into thinking about the role of colonization and global migration in how we understand queerness as a Pride Center team, and we will be uplifting the narratives of queer people across the world.
We humbly amplify this focus with the deep desire to learn and be held accountable on our journey together. We ask for your support in sharing any resources you may have or by sharing narratives that you think are important for us to uplift. This is the work of us all and we look forward to learning alongside you this year.
You can find more information and resources for each intentional focus here.
Our summary of the year, photos, highlights, & more!
We at the Pride Center are deeply grateful to the students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members who have worked throughout the years towards queer justice here at Lehigh and beyond. We would not exist today if it were not for the labor, struggle, and achievements of those who came before us, and we have created this page in honor of them.
We hope this is a helpful resource for all who want to learn more about the evolution of LGBTQIA+ life at Lehigh. Below you'll find a narrative retelling of this history along with a decade-by-decade timeline of the major events in our history. We have hyperlinked major events in both resources to articles from Lehigh University's newspaper, The Brown and White in an attempt to more authentically represent the changing tides of history for queer people at Lehigh.
Lastly, we recognize that this page is a living, breathing resource full of limits and gaps. Articles and historical documents can only do so much to tell stories, which is why we are always thrilled to hear from the people who lived through these moments. If we are missing any important pieces of these stories, please email us at email@example.com with suggestions so we can more fully represent this history!
HOLD FOR EMBEDDED HISTORY POWER POINT
LGBTQIA+ life at Lehigh has a long and complex history, and the work of social justice within queer communities has consistently been led by passionate and resilient student leaders on Lehigh’s campus. The first known organized group came together at Lehigh in early 1972; the “Homophile Society” (LE-HI-HO) was founded by a group of students and University Chaplain Hubert L. Flesher as a space for gay and lesbian students to come together to be in community with one another. In a decade where a campus fraternity actively ousted openly gay members of their community while administrators refused to acknowledge “homosexual” students, LE-HI-HO was an early iteration of a group dedicated to campus education, advocacy, and safety. LE-HI-HO, however, was not an officially recognized organization on campus, and demand continued to increase for officially-recognized LGB groups in the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) community.
By the 2000s, LGBTQ life on campus gained momentum with the founding of Spectrum, Lehigh University's longest-standing undergraduate LGBTQ+ organization, in 2003. Spectrum has initiated some of the most long-lasting changes for LGBTQ+ life at Lehigh. 2005 was a particularly fruitful year for Spectrum, as Lehigh witnessed the first-ever “Illusions Drag Show” (still running fourteen years later as the “Spectrum Drag Show”) and PRIDE week along with the opening of the Rainbow Room, which provided a dedicated space on campus for queer students to come together in community.
With the formation of the Pride Center, numerous changes occurred both internally and in the wider Lehigh community that have helped push LGBTQIA+ awareness and competency to new levels. First, with the help of 2016 graduate Liz Pines, Lehigh University allotted 50+ gender-inclusive bathrooms around campus in 2014, and the number has skyrocketed since then. Additionally, the Pride Center created the “Trans @ LU” webpage in 2015, which provides a comprehensive overview of resources available to transgender, gender non-conforming, and/or gender questioning (“TGNC”) students, staff, and faculty at Lehigh University. One of the most important changes for TGNC folks at Lehigh highlighted by Trans@LU is the ability for people who have not had a legal name change to update their names in emails and Banner along with their Lehigh ID cards, a process that started in 2016 and continues to be expanded to all university-wide processes. Starting in the 2018-2019 academic year, Lehigh University now offers gender-inclusive housing at all price points to students of any grade level on campus. This initiative was made possible by a partnership between the Pride Center, Residential Life, and Housing Services, and we continue to work to update policies and facilities on campus to be inclusive of all who come here.