June 28, 1969: Unsuspecting patrons and employees were forced out of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. It was a police raid – not uncommon for gay clubs in New York City throughout the ‘60s. This led to days of protests, ultimately igniting a gay rights movement around the world. But this time was different.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It was also the first time the United States has ever hosted World Pride – an international march celebrating gay rights, diversity and inclusivity. Among the thousands who marched in World Pride, 70 were from Hofstra University.
“It’s incredible that just 50 years ago there were riots in these streets for the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community,” said public relations graduate student Chris Gadd ’18, ’20. “The Pride March shows just how much society has grown and matured.”
Every year, students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited by the Office of Intercultural Engagement and Inclusion to come together to march in the name of Pride – a word with many meanings at Hofstra, which has two lions – Kate and Willie – as its mascots and uses “Pride” (defined as a group of lions) as its official team name.
“Pride is accepting and loving people for who they are,” said Gadd, also noting that he feels pride in being part of the Hofstra family.
That family feeling is what makes Hofstra special, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Houston Dougharty. “The Hofstra Pride is all about inclusivity and inviting people in to be part of a great community,” he said. “And that’s exactly what this march is about.”
Glitter, sequins and feathers coated the streets of New York. And those who strutted down Fifth Avenue that day did so with purpose.
“Our mission is educate, advocate, celebrate,” said Amanda Del Gaudio, assistant director of LGBTQ+ Advocacy and Awareness at Hofstra. “And so we are here [at Pride] to celebrate, advocate, and educate and have a place where students can come and celebrate their identities and celebrate how far we’ve come in the last 50 years.”
2019 marked the fourth consecutive New York City Pride march with an official Hofstra contingent
“I’m where I belong,” said Josh Castronuovo ’21, a public relations major. “I’m out and I’m proud and I’m happy.”