Humber North’s Pride flag ceremony reminds LGBTQ+ students that “you belong here”

Jun 4, 2024 | Campus News, News

Humber College’s North Campus kicked off Pride Month with a flag-raising ceremony.

On Monday, students, facility, and administration gathered at Humber North’s Learning Resource Commons lobby to watch the Pride and Trans flags rise in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

Matthew Harris, a Humber English professor and co-lead of the 2SLGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group was the emcee and discussed the need for events like these on campus.

“While school can be a difficult place for many people, I know that it can also offer freedom to learn and grow without worrying about the judgment of parents and family,” Harris said.

man speaking in front of onlookers

Matthew Harris speaks to attendees about the importance of community and acceptance. Photo credit: Ciara Lalor-Lindo

This year’s theme “You Belong Here” further amplified the importance of having a safe space through community, said Harris.

“I’m glad to stand here and say ‘you belong here, at Humber,’” Harris said. “As a professor, I hope I can offer a space to my students where they can find their way to who they are without interference from me, or anyone else.”

With belonging being an overarching theme in this year’s Pride festivities, Humber student Lweyn Majors touches on how community is more than a physical space.

“Community is how our brave predecessors fought for our right to be here, it’s how we find shelter and comfort in a world that often feels like it’s spiraling,” Majors said. “Community is how we stay protected and how we protect other vulnerable members against those trying to take their rights away.”

It is important for Humber members to see themselves in the school’s rich history, said Elle Barry, student leader of the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre.

“By looking at this flag, my hope is that you are reminded of the beautiful community we have already built here at Humber,” Barry said.

A person wearing a t-shirt with "proud" in colourful letters on the back of the shirt.

Attendees were encouraged to wear their most colourful clothing to kick-start Pride Month. Photo credit: Ciara Lalor-Lindo

While June is commonly known as Pride Month, it is also National Indigenous Heritage Month, a time for Indigenous peoples and communities to be showcased and recognized for their presence and impact on Canadian history.

Grace Francisci, the Indigenous Strategic Initiatives Administrator at Humber North noted the intersectionality between the two communities.

Many Indigenous individuals identify as LGBTQ+, and their experiences are vital to both movements,” Francisci said. “Their voices often navigate multiple layers of identity and advocacy, and it’s crucial that we listen to and amplify their stories.”

Jason Seright, Vice President of Inclusion and Belonging, also recognized the many commonalities between those in the LGBTQ+ and Indigenous communities as a result of living your truth.

“I think under-represented groups and racialized people have a lot in common with Indigenous people,” Seright said. “You have prejudice, stereotypes, and hatred because of who you are and what you are.”

By telling these stories of lost identities being found and fought for, we can gain an understanding and embrace our differences said Seright.

“For far too long, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals have faced discrimination, persecution, and exclusion simply for being who they are,” Seright said. “Today we honour their struggles, victories, and contributions to our collective journey to equality and acceptance.”

When asked about the future of the Pride and trans flag ceremony, Seright was optimistic.

“This is the biggest crowd we’ve had, and who knows, maybe in the coming years we’ll have to move to the gym to fit all of the people,” he said. “The future’s bright, I think.”