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OU President Lori Stewart Gonzalez cuts ribbon Wednesday at the Pride Center rededication

Ohio University renames LGBT Center to Pride Center

Ohio University’s LGBT Center renamed itself the Pride Center Monday in an effort to use more inclusive and inviting language. The renaming, which the OU Student Senate unanimously passed in October 2023, was recognized by a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.

Following criticism that the term LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) was not inclusive of all queer and intersecting identities, administrative staff and Student Senate members opted to rebrand the program. Dr. Micah McCarey, director of the former LGBT, now Pride Center, said he and Pride Center staff considered several names, drawing inspiration from other institutions and requesting feedback from students before deciding on the new name.

“Since starting as LGBT Center director in 2019, I've heard inquiries from visitors, students, alumni and others asking why we are missing letters from the name LGBT Center,” McCarey said. “We hope that anyone who connects with our Pride Center can cultivate a sense of pride in their advocacy, whether that's as an ally or as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.”

The ribbon-cutting event was attended by around 50 students and faculty members at Baker University Center, located at 1 Park Place, in room 348, and was also attended virtually via Microsoft Teams. The ceremony began at 5 p.m. and dedicated the Pride Center to its core mission of education, connection, celebration and support, according to a university news release.

Among these attendees were students such as Student Senate LGBTQIA+ Commissioner Willow Downard and Pride Center student staffer and drag queen Rayley Saphron. Members of the administration, such as President Lori Stewart Gonzalez and Interim Vice President for the Division of Diversity and Inclusion Russell Morrow, were also in attendance.

“The Pride Center has a decades-long history of advocacy, celebration, education and community in support of gender identity and sexual orientation,” Morrow said in his address. “Over the years the location has changed. The logo has changed. The leaders have changed, but the commitment to fostering a safe, inclusive, healthy and successful community has never wavered. Now arguably more than ever, that commitment is crucial.”

McCarey, along with other members of the Pride Center staff, recognizes the limitations the program faces using an acronym for its name and is committed to providing students, faculty and the community with access and representation. The Pride Center ultimately became the initiative's most popular name recommendation because of the term’s long-standing history as an anthem for LGBTQIA+ rights. 

Still, McCarey emphasized there have been challenges, as in any renaming process, and that a percentage of people will always have differing opinions.

“Ultimately, an acronym approach to naming the Center was going to provide ongoing limitations,” McCarey said. “Language is always evolving. We know that there will continue to be shifts in LGBTQ terminology, so this just happens to be where we've landed right now in 2024.” 

The Center originally opened as the GLBT Center in 1998 and was subsequently renamed the LGBT Center a year later. For more than 25 years, the Center has provided people with educational opportunities, supplemental resources and meaningful connections and has urged people to get involved in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on campus and in the community.

“Sometimes people assume that diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are only for people of color or underrepresented students, when in fact, it's really important to understand that the work of DEI is everyone's,” McCarey said. “We all have a role to play in making our communities safer and more inclusive.”

Daisy Ramos, a sophomore studying film, echoes these sentiments. 

“I think that Pride (as a name for the Center) does help a little bit more because it fits in with everybody that's under that (LGBTQIA+) umbrella,” Ramos said. “We all were fighting for our rights and we should have pride for that.”

McCarey said a large reason for renaming the Center was to be inclusive of intersectional identities. As a Latin-Caribbean, pansexual and polyamorous student Ramos said she agrees.

“I was surprised (by the name change) but at the same time, I'm not opposed to it,” she said. “I like the idea of community in every sense of the word and I am very comfortable in the Pride Center.”

McCarey said he believes renaming the Center will provide more people with a sense of community and belonging, ultimately making it more inviting. Although the Pride Center is located on Ohio University’s campus, Assistant Director Sarah Doherty said the Center has found success outside the university as well.

“We are incredibly proud of the … knowledge, friendship, mentorship, leadership and … engagement with the Center,” Doherty said per the news release. “We are also tremendously appreciative of the faculty, staff, alumni, community members and supporters without whom the Center’s work would be impossible.”

Stewart Gonzalez said she is incredibly proud to be an ally and to have allies all over campus and is proud of the Pride Center, which she called a “perfect gift” in her speech. She said it is the university’s mission to make people of any background or characteristic comfortable on campus.

“One thing I think about OU is we’re students first and we are a community,” Stewart Gonzalez said. “Once people walk across the bricks, they begin to feel at home and I want that to be true for every student regardless of your interest, regardless of your sexual orientation, your background or your religion.”


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