Guilford College PRIDE launches a new year


Mohamed Togol

Guilford PRIDE President Andrew Orchowsky talks with new and returning members of the club.

Hidden behind two double doors and a long painted hallway in King Hall is a cozy little room, filled to the brim with couches, pillows and artwork. Upon entering, one may be greeted by a student reading a sample of the room’s ample literature, the smell of local catering or the fuzzy sound of the iconic “Love, Simon” playing on the small television in the corner. That quaint space is the LGBTQ+ center of Guilford, where the first meeting of Guilford PRIDE was held Friday, Sept. 27.

This meeting was the first of many weekly rendezvouses from 4-5 p.m. in King 128E, also known as the Bayard Rustin Center (BRC), and featured short spiels from Club President Andrew Orchowsky, Treasurer Karrington Smith and Faculty Advisor Meagan McNeely, as well as an icebreaker activity complete with catered food from Noodles and Co. The meeting was focused on introductions, both between attendees and of the club’s past and future events.

A variety of eager faces attended the meeting, including LGBTQ+ first-years and returning members and allies, all of whom welcomed one another with quiet banter as the meeting began with a bit of nervous energy bouncing off the walls. As the meeting progressed, everyone rotated around the room to meet one another and discuss interests, hobbies and hopes for the club. The confidence in the room grew along with the laughter, and by the end of the meeting everyone chattily said goodbye, hoping to see one another again sometime, or perhaps at the next meeting.

“That ease of conversation is what PRIDE is all about,” said Orchowsky. One of his main goals of the club is to “provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ students so that we can strengthen the community on campus.” That is why the first meeting was focused primarily on getting to know one another rather than providing dull descriptions of past events or long lectures on the importance of LGBTQ+ groups like PRIDE.

For PRIDE secretary and junior Lex Darrow, the club’s focus on comfort was the main reason to keep coming back.

“As a member of the LGBT community, I just really enjoy having a club based on that. It makes me feel like I’m not alone in this situation,” Darrow said. “I just definitely want people to keep coming and keep being educated and having fun and feeling safe in this space.”

So who can attend the weekly PRIDE meetings? Well, anyone is welcome. New member Amy McRoberts, a first-year, said she came to “make friends and get more in touch with the LGBT community.” As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Amy expressed interest in becoming more active in organizations like PRIDE. However, she said PRIDE isn’t just for those identifying as LGBTQ+.

“Even if you are not part of the LGBT community, it’s nice to educate yourself and learn about it,” McRoberts said. “There’s a lot of people that say they don’t understand it. They don’t even take the time to acknowledge that it’s a thing.”

Orchowsky agreed. “PRIDE is a group for all students,” he said. “It’s specifically catered towards the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s for allies as well. Our goal is really just to provide some great programming and events for all students at Guilford, where we can hopefully do outreach and education about the LGBTQ+ community, but at the same time have a good time and build a stronger sense of community among queer students and allies on campus.”

Over the next two semesters, PRIDE hopes to plan a variety of events, including a few off-campus social activities like bowling or laser tag, as well as a few more laid-back events like a movie night or an open mic. Additionally, the club hopes to bring back its Queer Sex Talk, which has been a success in the past. Anyone is welcome to attend the events for a bit of fun or education. In the meantime, PRIDE will host BRC Social Hours every Friday from 4-5 p.m.

So come on down to King 128E. Cozy up with a book or your homework, or come to talk about whatever’s on your mind.

As Smith said, the BRC is an “open space, judgment-free … What happens in here stays here.”

Who knows? You may learn something new along the way.

The BRC is “OUR space,” Darrow said. “I just love it.”

Chances are, queer or not, you may come to love Guilford PRIDE’s welcoming charm too.


Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 1 of The Guilfordian on Oct. 4, 2019.