Celebrating Pride Year-Round: Alex, a WCU-Texas Professor, Embraces Identity and Inspires Students

Alex, a General Education assistant professor at West Coast University-Texas teaching online courses, is proud of their identity and the opportunity to celebrate not only during Pride Month, but throughout the year.

“When I think of what it means to be proud, for me, it’s being a good person, a kind person, and that I can be a good representative of this amazing community,” said Alex. “Supporting my students, regardless of how they identify, is so important. I want to continue learning more and incorporate that into my teaching as well as my own personal journey.”

When Alex first found the terms they identified with, it was “a lightbulb going off to self-acceptance and pride.” Alex feels lucky that they have been open to sharing their identity for most of their adulthood, allowing that visibility to shine amongst and inspire students.

Many of Alex’s students have confided in them or felt comfortable to be their true selves in class. As Alex notes, this is why visibility is so important.

Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, Alex didn’t have school groups or clubs that welcomed them and the way they identified. In fact, they dropped out of school due in part to a feeling of isolation.

“I’ve been discriminated against, insulted, and told to keep my identity quiet, even in workplaces that were supposedly progressive,” Alex said. “I was told I was wrong, evil, and should be institutionalized.”

Alex appreciates the open and accepting environment of WCU and the ability for everyone to be themselves.

“It’s important for everyone to show respect and understanding in both our work environment and the classroom,” Alex said. “Everyone, regardless of how they identify, should love themself and be kind to themself as well as others.”

Alex also notes that LGBTQIA+ students and colleagues value the ability to be seen and heard, and for their identity to be visible when they feel safe and comfortable sharing that. Access to information on various identities can be a helpful tool for those seeking to understand this, and Alex points to the GLAAD Media Reference Guide as a great resource to learn material on a multitude of LGBTQIA+ topics.

“Words must be backed up by policy and remembrance, not just for Pride Month, but all year long so everyone feels supported,” Alex said. “It also helps to remind others of the role models in all identities to show that we are just people, mostly good people, and many religious faiths do support LGBTQIA+ persons.”

When asked about LGBTQIA+ role models, Alex has looked up to several, including Harvey Milk, Alan Turing, Silvia Rivera, Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, Suzy Eddie Izzard, and Del LaGrace Volcano.

“LGBTQIA+ individuals want to live their lives as everyone does,” Alex said. “Hating others because of their identity has no positive side; it just hurts others, particularly youth. I also think allies are extremely important, as allies can cause others to change their minds for the better.”

Alex plans to celebrate Pride Month working on some creative ventures, including writing fiction genre stories, creating art, and visiting LGBTQIA+ artwork and cultural events. As they reflect further on what Pride Month means, Alex gives some sound advice for those struggling with their identity.

“Understanding yourself takes time, as it is a personal journey to be part of self-actualization,” Alex said. “Read about identities, reflect on them, and give yourself space. What you understand now may grow and change, which is simply human. There is no ‘one’ way to properly be a particular identity, and no one should gatekeep how to be LGBTQIA+—just be a good person.”

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