Pride Month – A Reflection and a Challenge

Following is a message from Dr. Konjit Page, Chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity Committee.

Dear NCSPP Colleagues,

June marks the beginning of LGBTQ Pride in most states across the country. In thinking about sending a message to you all, I was challenged by the history of LGBTQ movements and progress, and our current state of affairs in this country.

You see, Pride has often been a source of celebration and conflict for me as a queer person in this country. I was a “baby queer” in Boston, MA in the early 2000s. It was a time when the LGBTQ scene was dominated by gay White cis males and yet there was a movement for more inclusion of women, trans and BIPOC folks. A movement that I dedicated much time towards as a graduate student, in my advocacy and my scholarship. One thing that united all of these groups was the struggle and fight for same-sex marriage, which was finally put into legislation in 2004, making Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. I remember the hope that it provided. The sense that we were starting to be seen fully and the ability to create a future that could look so bright.

At the time, you could have never told me that the queer future I had prepared myself for would be in jeopardy 20 years later. And yet here we are. With each week, we are inundated with more anti-LGBTQ legislation that is putting our queer and trans youth at risk. That is putting our queer and trans students at risk. While many NCSPP members will identify themselves and/or their programs as allies of LGBTQ populations, I wonder if this is enough. As I sit with queer and trans students that are questioning what their personal and professional lives will look like in the future, I wonder how we as a field, and as an organization, can move from a simple ally stance to one of an accomplice?

To be an accomplice, one must be willing to do more than listen; they must be willing to stand with those who are being attacked, excluded or otherwise mistreated, even if that means suffering personal or professional backlash. Being an accomplice means being willing to act with and for oppressed peoples and accepting the potential fallout from doing so. (Hardin-Moore & Harden, 2019)

This Pride season, I wish to challenge LGBTQ “allies” in our NCSPP network. How has your allyship served to disrupt or dismantle systems of oppression that impact our LGBTQ students and faculty at national and local (your program) levels? What systemic changes have you made in your programs that support the needs of LGBTQ students and faculty? How does your program promote the lives and scholarship of queer and trans psychology scholars in the field? How is your program planning to prepare queer and trans students for an uncertain future?

And finally, how might you move from a simple ally state of support into one that requires much more from you? As a queer faculty member, I need you to do more. Your students need you to do more. We need you as accomplices in the current fight for our rights and dignity. We need you to speak up, to challenge, to disrupt, to dismantle. Your students need you to help them strategize for the fight that they will/are having to simply exist, let alone be successful, and make a mark on our field.

During the upcoming NCSPP Summer Meeting, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (SOGD) Committee will be exploring some of the anti-LGBTQ legislation we are facing and how this is impacting our LGBTQ students and colleagues. I hope to hear more about your programs’ experiences, as well as how your programs have stepped up as accomplices.

Pride is most often symbolized by rainbows and fun, but let’s not forget – Our first Pride was a riot for queer and trans rights. It’s time to return to our origins.

In solidarity,

Konjit V. Page, PhD
NCSPP Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity Committee, Chair