Pride is a Diversity Advocacy Organization advised through the Dean of Students Office that provides a safe space, an educational atmosphere, and a place to learn and grow to people of all gender identities and sexual orientations at Illinois State.

Katie, a senior theatre major, specifically chose to attend Illinois State because of its Pride program. She has been a member of the organization since her freshman year and is now the president.

Katie’s goal is “to put an emphasis on care, welcome, and support to anyone, no matter their background or story,” just like Pride did for her when she first came to campus. Participating in Pride allowed her to be fully comfortable coming out because she felt a strong sense of support.

“It’s hard telling my coming out story because there is not a certain time and moment when it happened. It was more of an internal struggle that I learned to work through and a personal journey that continues,” she said.

Katie identifies as queer, although she has learned that you do not have to label yourself. For those who don’t know how to come out or are afraid, Katie has this advice:

“You want to make sure you’re doing it for yourself, and don’t pressure yourself to do it because you feel as if you have to. Coming out can be scary, but you’ll find a lot of love and warmth in this community who will support you no matter what chapter you are in your journey,” she said.

Pride will have a presence on the Quad on Friday, October 10, in advance of National Coming Out Day on October 11. Students are encouraged to stop by the table to learn more about the organization and meet current members. Katie recommends students use Pride as a resource to help them in the coming out process, as they have helped her and many others find the right path.

For more information about joining Pride, attending their meetings or details on National Coming Out Day, contact Diversity Advocacy at (309) 438-8968.

Marie Huels was a contributor to this article.