Celebrating Pride at Govs Today and Every Day
When I arrived five years ago, I heard much about the rich culture, traditions, and long history of The Governor’s Academy. Thus, having served as a faculty advisor with my wife at my last school to our Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), I was excited when Governor’s students eagerly embraced the idea of celebrating Pride for a weekend on our campus in Byfield. What started as a weekend is now a full week.
We celebrate Pride because it is essential to the LGBTQ+ students who attended Govs in 1763, 1863, 1963, and today, 2023. We walk in the halls of past students and faculty who could not enjoy the progress—the ability to be their whole selves—that the Governor’s students, faculty, and staff enjoy today. We celebrate Pride at Govs because our Mission Statement demands that we “[build] vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable communities''. Today, our LGBTQ+ students can express their identity in various ways, such as: by whom they ask to prom, by the gender pronouns they use, by the books they read in class, and by open conversations and shared stories. We are inclusive in our aim to use one’s correct personal pronouns when saying hello. Our LGBTQ+ students see themselves in the classroom, afternoon programs, and the residential halls due to a robust curriculum that engages students in hearing and seeing other voices—queer voices. We have LGBTQ+ faculty members who live on campus with their families, serving as role models to all our students.
While the United States celebrates Pride in June, commemorating the Stonewall uprising in 1969, at Govs, we celebrate Pride the second week of October to correspond with National Coming Out Day. October is also a visible month for Govs to embrace community together when we are on campus. The Coming Out campaign was launched and endorsed by the Human Rights Commission (HRC), which reads,
“‘Coming Out’ has been the common term for someone who acknowledges being LGBTQ+, and it is used throughout our resources. However, it is important to note that this language centers on the persons we are coming out to rather than us. It gives the impression that people who don’t identify as cisgender or heterosexual hide something from society rather than acknowledge how homophobia and transphobia create an unwelcoming environment. When publicly identifying as LGBTQ+, you are inviting people into a part of your life that should be protected and celebrated.”
Since the inception of Pride on campus, the Office of Multicultural Education has partnered with Spectrum, Governor’s gender and sexuality student organization, in providing an all-school convocation speaker who is a prominent member of the LGBTQ+ community. Spectrum invites voices from community members to discuss the excitement of Pride via a Thursday evening community conversation. Students, faculty, and staff join together to decorate the campus with Pride flags and other symbols of joy and love across the many buildings and sprawling lawns. We host a weekend film, dance, drag party, a color rainbow paint dance, and a Pride Conference that brings many other prep school students and teachers to campus.
More than anything, we celebrate Pride at Govs because it allows us to be our best selves. We pride ourselves on being a school that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Pride invites straight and queer folks into the fold of Radical Love, a philosophy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. subscribed to in thinking about our humanity.
While we celebrate Pride in October, the truth is that we celebrate every day.
Author: Eddie Carson, Dean of Multicultural Education