By London Blackburn/Staff reporter
According to the Postsecondary National Policy institute, over 200 LGBTQ+ centers existed on college campuses across the country in 2018. Amarillo College was one of those colleges, having formed an LGBTQ+ club in 2015.
Ruth De Anda, an Amarillo College adviser, said, “I really was concerned. I felt like something needed to happen.” So she took the initiative and started the AC Pride club.
Five years later, the club continues to grow, and has gained two more faculty sponsors and elected student officials.
“It’s an honor to be viewed as a trusted resource for our students on campus, even if they just need a sweet from my candy bowl or a warm greeting,” said Jacquiline Llewellyn, the AC Pride co-sponsor and speech instructor. “The more involved I am able to be in student life, the more students are able to recognize me as someone available to them who cares, and hopes to help.”
AC Pride’s goal is to provide a safe place for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community and allies, De Anda said.
Shawn McCrea, the president of AC Pride, said the club unites people from different backgrounds and gives members the chance to meet others who share similar life experiences.
For McCrea, the club has created a sense of community and a supportive environment.
“I could have queer friends that know what it’s to live a life out of the heteronormative,” they said.
“Pride provides acceptance for students who may be feeling mistreated for their orientation,” McCrea said. It is also a space for students to converse, hang out and find new friends.
“We are open and accepting toward anyone who might feel like they fit outside the heteronormative spectrum. We also welcome allies. You don’t have to be gay to be in the club,” McCrea said.
In November of each year, Pride hosts a Thanksgiving lunch for the club members.
This is important because some of the members’ families do not accept them and will not celebrate the holiday with them, Maddisun Fowler, AC Pride co-sponsor and student media coordinator, said.
“I can’t even imagine that, so just being there and being supportive for students who need it is everything,” she said.
“Some students may not have support at home, but they know that when they step into a Pride meeting that they are surrounded with love and support,” Fowler said.
“It’s wonderful to watch a group of students become a community,” said Llewellyn. “I love getting to be a part of student life and supporting students in their academic and social endeavors.”
Pride meets from 11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the Louise Daniels room in the College Union Building on the Washington Street Campus. For any questions, contact De Anda at r0343730@ actx.edu or Fowler at firstname.lastname@example.org.