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LGBT student leader takes pride in Illinois State

Matt Rillie didn’t have to wait long to be an LGBT student leader at Illinois State.

By the second week of classes his freshman year, Rillie was on the executive board for ISU Pride, the umbrella student organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, and curious students, as well as allies.

Four years later, Rillie was thrilled to see Illinois State host the nation’s largest LGBT college conference on February 13–15. That conference, called MBLGTACC, brought nearly 2,300 attendees to campus for three days of programming and speakers, include Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox.

“This conference is huge, and it is huge in size, and space, and amazingness,” said Rillie, a senior sociology major with a minor in women’s and gender studies.

Rillie grew up in the small town of Aledo in western Illinois. Making the big adjustment to a campus with more than 20,000 students, Rillie has become an LGBT superstar at ISU. He went on to become the president of Pride and recently launched Lambda Psi Omega, a new gender neutral queer frarority.

He’s helped build the thriving LGBT community at Illinois State, and he’s not done yet. Inspired in part by the advisors he’s had at ISU, Rillie wants to pursue a career in higher education.

“Illinois State has taught me how to claim space—space for myself, and space for my own wellness,” Rillie said. “And that is something I will carry with me forever, and I will love and live it.”

Learn more about Matt in the video above.

Bob Tomaski can be reached at Ryan Denham can be reached at


Congratulations Matt. I attended ISU in the late 70's before I was an out lesbian. It's great to see Redbird Pride! I, too, was a student leader and went on to get a M.S. in Higher Ed Administration, and now work at University of California Berkeley, so pursue your dream!

How wonderful to see that LGBT life for ISU students can be totally "Normal"!