By ERICA VANBUSKIRK
Some students in Amarillo College’s LGBTQ community may need support and encouragement. That is where the AC Pride Club steps in.
“It is Amarillo College’s LGBTQ gender inclusive and ally club,” Micah Smith, the AC Pride Club sponsor and Academic Success Center supervisor, said. “A longer version is that it’s an opportunity for students and even staff or faculty to collaborate in an inclusive environment to talk about things that we don’t normally get to talk about in the classroom, and kind of create that sort of kinship.”
AC Pride Club exists to support those in the community who are considered non-traditional. Club members plan to take the steps needed to become a bigger voice for those who need support, during a hard and vulnerable time in one’s life, and their allies.
“Breathe. It’s going to be okay,” Jazmyn Mullins, a club member, said. “It may not seem like it, but it will get better, and our AC Pride Club is always welcoming new members.”
The president of the club, Junior Deleon, said the club wants members and nonmembers to know that there are people willing to help. Information and a reservoir of aid is always available for those in need.
“It’s really great to engage with those students and provide resources for them, so they know it’s not just students that share the same experiences and want to listen, be a part of your life and care about you. It’s staff and faculty members as well,” Smith said.
She added that AC Pride offers a safe space for students to be themselves. “I like to let people know it’s something they can rely on and gain support from, especially if they are nontraditional,” Smith said.
“We have families that want to come, married couples and people with kids. It’s not just your traditional college students. It’s all sorts of people from all different walks of life that want to join.”
The club holds many events to spread information and welcome the community, including a bracelet and informational handout on National Coming Out Day.
“We get to celebrate people coming out. We get to do that and we get to celebrate being us,” Mullins said.
When navigating life there are many roadblocks, and being alone doesn’t have to be one of them, Deleon said, noting that AC Pride is there to help you through the many stages of finding and accepting your true self.
“There’s no rush and there shouldn’t be any pressure. We’re here regardless. The club is going to be here long after we’re gone, but it is always going to be a safe place,” Deleon said. “If you don’t feel comfortable being a part of it that’s fine, but if you need someone to talk to just reach out to one of us. We’re always here to talk.”