It was a beautiful day for a parade last Saturday, as approximately 55 members of the College of Staten Island community joined about 250 other marchers in the Fifth Annual Staten Island LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] Pride Parade.
Jeremiah Jurkiewicz, President of the CSI Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) and parade participant, said that he thought that the parade “was a great success because everyone who participated had a great time and we portrayed that this community is there. Especially for CSI, there were many straight people who were involved, not only the gay community, so it brought more people in.”
CSI freshman Kaitlyn Smith, another marcher, added that the parade “was very empowering…walking down the street and seeing fellow lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders rooting us on for standing up for what we believe in and wanting to be equal with everybody else.”
Another participant, CSI sophomore Paula Yee, noted, “It felt really good to be part of the parade because I got to see how many people show support in my hometown. It was really exciting to be entering the modern world where people can be more accepting of different things rather than dwell on hating everything else.”
CSI students and faculty members were joined by College President Dr. Tomás Morales, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. William Fritz, and Acting Vice President for Student Affairs in the parade that stepped off at Central Avenue between Hyatt Street and Victory Boulevard and wrapped up at Cromwell Center, the site of a post-parade festival that attracted about 500 people. The festival hosted over 100 tables that included vendors and community based organizations, including a CSI recruitment table.
Dr. Katie Cumiskey, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the College, and the parade’s organizer, commented that she “was very excited about CSI’s interest in participating in this year’s parade. I approached the administration in October of 2008 to request their participation. It was without hesitation that they were on board. I was impressed by the fact that CSI wanted to participate as the whole College in the parade and that it was not just about the GSA marching. CSI t-shirts, in the colors of the rainbow flag, were special ordered for this parade and members of the GSA marched with their banner alongside the banner for CSI. President Morales and Provost Fritz marched with members of the faculty, administration, staff, and students. [I’d like to offer a] special thank you to Acting VP of Student Affairs, Mike Daniels and Assistant VP, Carol Brower along with Debbie Kee [Higher Education Assistant Coordinator, Student Clubs and Organizations] for all their support in making the impressive turnout for CSI a reality.”
“I think that the participation of CSI in this parade demonstrates the administration’s commitment to welcoming LGBT students to the CSI campus,” Dr. Comiskey added.
Summing up the event, Robert King Kee, Coordinator of Student Leadership Development in CSI’s Office of Student Life, who was a part of the CSI contingent, said, “It was a great day and it was nice to see the diversity of our students come out and support the value of inclusion and literally walk the walk. It was also nice to see the community embrace the parade….”