Daniel Mathis Spadafore
June 19, 2019
LGBTQ+ Pride Month is celebrated during the month of June in remembrance of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. The 2019 Lansing Pride Parade and Rally was attended by more than 6,000 people, LGBTQ+ Spartans and Allies included.
Celebrating LGBTQ+ Spartans and Allies
June is a big month for the LGBTQ+ community – It’s Pride! It’s a celebration, born from a riot, during which LGBTQ+ people declare "We’re here, we’re queer, and it’s time we are treated equally under the law." As a Spartan, I was particularly proud this past weekend to participate in the Lansing area Pride festivities alongside many other MSU LGBTQ+ and ally alumni. Rocking my “Michigan State University Pride” t-shirt from the Spartan Bookstore at the parade, rally and festival, attended by more than 6,000 people, I spotted the influence of Spartans throughout the day.
I may be a tad bit biased, but I’m incredibly proud of my husband, Peter Spadafore, my partner-in-pride 365 days a year. He’s a very enthusiastic graduate of MSU’s James Madison College (is there a Madisonian that isn’t?) and serves on Lansing’s City Council. I joined him in the parade along with thousands of marchers and we made our way from Adado Park to the steps of the Michigan State Capitol.
On the parade route, you couldn’t help but notice the impact of another MSU graduate. While she couldn’t be there in person, Governor Gretchen Whitmer – a two time MSU alumna – made a splash by ordering the State of Michigan to fly pride flags on the George W. Romney Building for the first time in Michigan history. Oh, and did I mention she married me to Peter? She’s an ally through and through, and she shows it.
I spotted the influence of Spartans throughout the day.
Spartans are committed to making their neck of the woods a better — more safe, inclusive, and welcome — place for generations to come.
The rally on the Capitol steps featured a number of speakers reflecting on their personal journeys and drawing attention to the fights left to be won for equality. Florensio Hernandez, a graduate of MSU’s Political Science program, community activist, and MSU Admissions Counselor, addressed the crowd and drew attention to the exponential violence faced by transgender women of color. Florensio led the crowd in a 49-second moment of silence to remember the victims in the Pulse NightClub shooting in Orlando, FL.
Looking on, I saw Dr. Stephanie Nawyn, Co-Director of MSU’s Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen), with her husband and two children (and some killer rainbow eyelashes). GenCen oversees MSU’s Women’s and Gender Studies and MSU’s LGBTQ+ Studies minor. The GenCen affiliated faculty and staff do an incredible job of educating the next generation of leaders in the LGBTQ+ community and providing eye opening experiences for future allies.
I'm sure that Governor Whitmer, Peter, Florensio and Dr. Nawyn represent only a small number of the Spartans in attendance at Pride celebrations this month, whether in Lansing, other cities across Michigan or in locations around the world. What energizes me is that I know I CAN find a Spartan at ALL of them (trust me, I work in international alumni relations and have a great gaydar). In addition to being LGBTQ+ or allies, these Spartans are committed to making their neck of the woods a better — more safe, inclusive, and welcome — place for generations to come. We all have a shared bond that is worth treasuring, celebrating, and fight for!
LGBTQ+ Spartans and Allies!=