On June 25, 2023, Communication Studies Department Chair and Professor of Instruction Scott Gratson, TYL ’19, (he/him) and Temple University students will head to New York for the city’s 53rd Pride March.
The theme of this year’s march is “Strength in solidarity.” Each year, New York Pride has a mantra for people to rally around that describes the current state of the LGBTQ community.
“Strength in solidarity, I think, is the perfect encapsulation of why it’s a march, and why we’re so honored to be able to make it happen,” said communication and social influence student Kimberly Gucciardi-Kriegh (she/her). Gucciardi-Kriegh is ecstatic to be attending her first Pride march after taking such an informative class.
As a part of CSI 4628: Empowerment of the LGBTQ+ Community Through the NYC Pride March: Exploration of a Social Movement – more affectionately known as “Pride class” - Gratson and the 34 students met twice a week to study LGBTQ history and prepare for their role in the upcoming march.
“They are so much fun,” Gratson said. “I’m thrilled to see young people so utterly intrigued by history.”
Gratson is impressed by this group of students’ ability to ask unique questions and their extreme empathy for the LGBTQ community. Many students expressed anger that they did not know much about LGBTQ history until taking the class and are still angry that some of the harsh treatment of the community hasn’t gone away.
Throughout their seven weeks together, the Pride class watched films and looked at other pieces of LGBTQ history. Many students were surprised to find out that The Stonewall Uprising was not the beginning of the fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community. Others wanted to know more about the history of the lesbian community since many films only focused on gay men.
Gratson followed the students’ lead and adjusted his content as needed to quench his class’s thirst for knowledge. His students inspired his own exploration of lesbian history, leading him to teach about Temple alumna Edie Windsor, CLA ‘50, and her impact on the movement.
“It’s just been so beneficial and easily the most engaging history course I’ve ever taken,” said communication studies student Milo Shea (he/him). Shea’s favorite part of the class was watching the films and he feels that he will have a different appreciation for the movement when he attends New York Pride this year.
Perhaps a highlight of the course was when Gratson and the students visited the William Way Community Center Archive to study artifacts from the early days of the Pride movement. The archive, located in Philadelphia, revealed that Temple had even more involvement in the movement than even Gratson knew of. One thing is for sure: Gratson and the students left the center feeling proud of Temple’s history of activism and even more prepared to continue that legacy in New York.
When they weren’t studying history, they were making it. During the Tuesday classes, the students learned everything they needed to know in order to intern for the New York Pride March. As captain of spectator services for the march, Gratson oversees three stands: The ADA Stand, The Grand Stand and The View. The students have been assigned to one of the three stands and will work to make sure the day runs smoothly for all attendees.
“The best that I can do is to just do what I’m supposed to do and be patient,” Shea said. He and Gucciardi-Kriegh will be assistant captains, and though the day will be fast-paced and at times stressful, Shea knows that he and his peers are prepared and have excellent teamwork skills that they have gained from the class.
However, the students will not just be working all day.
Pride class students, their friends and alumni of the class will also march along the parade route with the other organizations that are there to show their support for the community.
“I am proud – in all meanings of the word – of the students in my Pride course,” Gratson wrote on LinkedIn. “They are engaged, driven, supportive, and determined. Never underestimate the ability of a group of students to create viable change.”