Pride Center celebrates second anniversary

The+American+River+College+Pride+Center+celebrates+its+anniversary+on+April+5%2C+2020.+Being+the+only+Pride+Center+in+Los+Rios+district+as+a+resource+for+LGBTQ%2B+students+on+campus+.+%28File+Photo%29

The American River College Pride Center celebrates its anniversary on April 5, 2020. Being the only Pride Center in Los Rios district as a resource for LGBTQ+ students on campus . (File Photo)

Marquala Brown

The American River College Pride Center’s upcoming anniversary is April 5th. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the campus shut down on March 13, the anniversary celebration and all Pride events will be postponed.

ARC is currently the only college campus within the Los Rios College District with a Pride Center. The Center opened almost two years ago with the help of ARC professor and Faculty Coordinator Emilie Mitchell. 

“[Because of ] the shutdown we are not able to host our Spring Calendar of events. Obviously, this is sad for all of us at the Pride Center but we are always most concerned about the health and safety of our students,” Mitchelle says. “We look forward to celebrating with everyone when it is safe to return.”.

The Pride Center’s goal is to serve the diverse LGBTQ+ community at ARC, create a safe space on campus, support an inclusive environment, provide workshops and education on LGBTQ+ people and issues as well as to advocate for improvement and more inclusive campus.  

The Pride Center also has many student groups such as the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Pride and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC), and Trans Spectrum Club (Transcendence). To get more info including location and meeting times for these groups to visit the ARC Pride Center website to let you know when the Pride Center will be back open after the school closure.

Alejandra Garcia serves as the pride program organizer of the Pride Center.  Hired in July as the first person in the position they had no guidance on how to do the job but used their prior experience as a community college, transfer college student, and queer person of color who had no pride centers at their community colleges saw this as a foundation to create a community. 

“I kinda just had to walk in and just start painting rainbows everywhere,” said Garcia. “The first year was a lot of questions and the second year is a lot of answers.”

When reflecting on the upcoming second anniversary of the Pride Center, Garcia described it as a beautiful reflection of the starting point of the Pride Center and the progression of where the Pride Center is going with all that it has accomplished in the second year but they still think there is more opportunity for growth and serving an even better and more effective way for LGBTQ+ people to exist on campus.

The Pride Center also hires many ARC LGBTQ+ students. 

“I really wanna make sure the credit goes to trans and queer students who come in here with there ideas, with their creativity, with their lived experiences, and there informing so much of the work that we’re doing here in the Center,” said Garcia. 

Jareth Damien and Ryan Lamar Sunzeri are both students and Pride Center peer mentors who have worked together for a semester-and-a-half. They have created many ideas and events including the Lavender Art Show, which Sunzeri created before actually working at the Pride Center.

“When I first got to ARC, I really didn’t know a lot about the queer community, I was still somewhat questioning my identity, said Sunzeri but once I joined the GSA and started learning about other people, I really wanted to invest in the community and how much it helped me grow as a person.”  

Both peer mentors say they see the Pride Center as a beneficial space because it creates an inclusive and safe space for LGBTQ+ students to just relax and be themselves.

“We have had a lot of students who have been figuring themselves out have been questioning themselves. This is a really good space for them to test out what in terms really fits with their identity,” said Sunzeri.

Although all events have been canceled the Pride Center continues in efforts to connect with ARC LGBTQ+ students.

“We are working on creating increased community in the online environment to support our students during this difficult time. Students can follow us on social media ( IG: @arcpridecenter Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ARCPrideCenter/)” said Mitchell.

There is also more information about the Pride Center via its website at ARC Pride Center.