Lambda Alliance brings pride to Augusta University

Augusta Pride is celebrating 10 years of promoting visibility, cultural unity and diversity education for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Ally communities of the CSRA.

This year’s pride festival and parade is a celebration of 10 years of supporting the LGBTQ+ communities as well as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

Augusta University’s Lambda Alliance works to bring this same dedication and support to students.

“I actually joined the Lambda Alliance last year, the beginning of last semester,” said Joseph Wallace, a junior studying computer science. “And for me, it’s about creating awareness for the community.”

The goal is to create a safe space for students from the moment they step on campus to the day they walk the stage at graduation.

“I know for me, when I was a freshman in college, that was kind of my first step into adulthood and my first step into freedom,” said Sam Pilgreen, president of Lambda Alliance and a senior majoring in communications. “So, when freshmen are going to be coming into our campus, we want to provide that safe space for them because they may not have had that during the younger years at home or in their high schools.”

Working with groups like The Shepard Project and sponsoring their own Trans Clothing Closet Service Project, Lambda has worked to make Augusta University a space where a student can truly become their own person.

“Being a part of the Lambda Alliance here is, like I said, creating a community and creating awareness because there are many people that don’t know what it means to be a part of the LGBT+ community, and what resources we have,” said Wallace. “We really try to create a facilitated environment that those coming out, or transitioning, can rely on, be happy with, communicate with and receive direction from.”

The alliance provides students with resources in the community, including the free health clinic available for students on Wednesdays, the Trans Clothing Closet on campus and more resources where assistance is available.

However, their help doesn’t just apply to college students.

With The Shepard Project, a group that provides a safe space for teens to be themselves without fear of bullying or judgment, Lambda Alliance works to put on events for local high schoolers.

“We have a prom every spring, and many people don’t get the opportunity to go to prom, dress the way they want to or be with who they want to,” said Wallace. “So with our miniprom, we invite from inside the community and with The Shepard Project, saying, ‘Hey, come to our prom. It’s a safe environment with good music and good food.’”

Held in the JSAC Ballroom, the event is a chance for those who haven’t always felt welcome to find a new sense of community.

“It’s a relaxing time for everybody,” said Pilgreen. “We don’t have to worry about being discriminated against, or bullied or treated any differently.”

This year the group won’t have a table set up at Pride but they are planning on attending as many events as possible.

“I believe that clubs like this are important,” said Pilgreen. “To give support to LGBT students that don’t really have a support system elsewhere, and to also educate allies on proper etiquette and ways to be a better ally to  your LGBT friends.”

Beats on Broad: The Green Party will kick off the festivities from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, June 21. Students interested in the event can get free tickets from the Department of Student Life and Engagement, but tickets are first-come, first-served, so make sure you call ahead.

Augusta Pride parade will start at 10:30 a.m. June 22 and run from Jones Street to the festival grounds with Dr. Cheryl Newman, a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia who was instrumental in Augusta University’s Ryan White Program, serving as grand marshal. The parade route and exact directions can be found at Pride Augusta.

For more information about the Lambda Alliance or resources available for the LBGT+ community, contact Sam Pilgreen or find them on Facebook.

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