PRIDE Gayla celebrates 40 years of LGBTQA activism

PRIDE Gayla celebrates 40 years of LGBTQA activism

Excellent food. Elegant clothing. Engaging conversation. Eye popping costumes.

On the evening of Oct. 31, PRIDE hosted a 40-year-legacy celebration, throwing a Gayla Banquet and Awards Ceremony in the Gilmer Room of Founders Hall. The celebration included the presentation of the inaugural Angelic Troublemaker Award, inspired by Bayard Rustin, the gay black civil rights activist after whom the LGBTQA center on campus was named.

“We need, in every community, a group of Angelic Troublemakers,” Bayard Rustin once said. “Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable.”

At the Gayla, a group of angelic troublemakers gathered to celebrate the history of LGBTQA organizations at Guilford while looking towards the future with the aim of making a difference.

“I think it’s really cool that we’re doing (the Gayla) in collaboration with alumni weekend, (so) for current students to see what the alumni are doing now,” said sophomore Ellie Weiner, vice president of PRIDE. “It’s also really important for the alumni to see how PRIDE has developed, what we’re currently doing and how we’re trying to be very proactive this year.”

The Gayla began with dinner and conversation, followed by speeches from members of the PRIDE board who discussed the history of PRIDE and their own personal experiences with living out their identities at Guilford.

The Angelic Troublemaker award was then presented to Reverend Kevin E. Taylor ‘87, who has used his Guilford education to live an active life in a number of different fields, from television production to pastoring to working in social justice. His work includes championing marriage equality and opposing bullying and racism within LGBTQA communities. Taylor now serves as the co-pastor at Unity Fellowship Church NewArk.

“There is no way that an accounting, English and Spanish major (would have become) an award-winning television producer and author except that Guilford taught me how to negotiate transition,” said Taylor. “Not just times when transition is forced on you … but the times when you are the author of the transition … and you can say ‘this isn’t working’ or ‘this doesn’t feel like what I’m looking for’ and give yourself permission to shift.”

After being presented with the award, Taylor gave a speech that inspired many attendees.

“He was basically like, ‘just be fearless when it comes to being yourself,’ and that you should never hold back,” said first-year Imani Ames, who attended the Gayla.

In his speech, Taylor pointed out that LGBTQA communities embrace their uniqueness in ways from which everyone should learn.

President of PRIDE Colin Nollet was impressed with how the event turned out.

“It hit all the notes we wanted it to,” he said.

Nollet discussed what PRIDE aims to do as an organization.

“Sexuality is always something that people have reservations with,” Nollet said. “But I think part of what PRIDE tries to do is make a safe, open space for those conversations. Because I know we have people that come and are confused and don’t know how they feel, and they use PRIDE as an opportunity to learn more … And I think it’s really our motive and job on campus, to bring these things out in the open.”

The Gayla was a hit with alumni who were involved with LGBTQA organizations during their time at Guilford.

“I just hope that the association keeps up the good work,” said R.J. Nickels ‘94. “I hope PRIDE keeps going and grows stronger and keeps helping people be who they need to be.”

PRIDE will continue making history this year through various projects for social justice, exciting events to attract students and as a continued safe space for exploring and celebrating identities during their weekly Monday meetings at 8 p.m. in King Hall.