LGBTQ+ group brings pride back to Hofstra — The Hofstra Chronicle

LGBTQ+ group brings pride back to Hofstra — The Hofstra Chronicle

After an LGBTQ+ organization lost Student Government Association (SGA) funding, its members and its executive board (e-board) during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Pride Network (TPN) is using this two-year hiatus to give the organization a makeover.

TPN is a group that provides a safe space for all LGBTQ+ Hofstra University students through educational and social meetings.

John Reiland, a senior computer science major, created a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) chapter with a friend at his high school.

“It turned out to be a really big deal, because people finally had a place to go,” Reiland said. “I found that the same type of space was lacking at Hofstra.”

Taking initiative is something Reiland wanted to continue to do when he started at the university in the spring of 2020.

“If nobody else steps up, somebody has to step up and do it,” Reiland said. “I thought I had the experience to bring us back.”

Reiland, the president of TPN, was not the only person that wanted the organization to come back. With the help from four other Hofstra students, the organization formed an e-board.

“I think one thing that’s really good about our e-board, as we all have our common goal, we really just wanted to bring The Pride Network back. There was a serious need,” Reiland said. “People kept asking, ‘Where’s The Pride Network?’ ‘Why don’t we have an organization for this on campus?’”

While forming the new e-board of TPN, Reiland did not want the only people in the group to be cisgender, gay white males; rather, his main priority was adding diversity.

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“It helps to have women and people of color on the e-board to give different perspectives that I wouldn’t have thought of and to really try to be representative of all the identities we see on campus,” he said. “We get along well. I think it’s probably easier than I thought it would be. It’s a little bit more mature than when I was president of the GSA in high school. Everybody just wants us to do well.”

By educating and entertaining the Hofstra community as a whole, Reiland wants students to know that TPN is working to create a safe space for all with events that focus on the LGBTQ+ experience.

“If somebody identifies as LGBTQ+, we welcome them,” Reiland said. “Somebody’s not sure how they identify, we welcome them. If they identify as straight and an ally, we welcome them. We want people to know that we’re here.”

Although this is an undergraduate group, TPN wants to reach out to students of various levels and faculty members as well.

“We really do welcome everybody, that includes grad students and med students,” Reiland said. “We would like to do more outreach to professors, other faculty and staff at Hofstra and see their perspectives and come and talk to us.”

Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual memorial day held on Monday, Nov. 20, to honor the lives of trans individuals that were lost by acts of violence. The Pride Network will be hosting an event which will provide resources to better help the trans community.

“We want to educate people about how we can help prevent these things, how to know what kinds of spaces are safe [and] how you can help trans people feel safe,” Reiland said.

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Discussing this topic is not easy, Reiland admits. To end the meeting, the organization plans to express themselves through creativity by turning the somber moment into a much lighter one.

“Because we’re close to a holiday, we don’t want to make the meeting all serious either,” he said. “We’re just going to at the end, we’re going to sort of split the meeting and to have some crafts and arts things.”

As TPN is in the rebuilding stages, the group is using their social media account to provide resources to its members.

“If you go on our Instagram, there’s a link to a Linktr.ee. The first link on the Linktr.ee is a Google Slides document. It has a list of all of these resources, including mental health. We dramatically expanded our mental health resources section to include research,” Reiland said. “Previously, we only had mentioned resources that are available on campus. Now we’ve added additional hotlines and things for more tech crisis types of situations, as well as links to other local mental health providers.”

With Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month in November, Reiland explains why it was necessary for them to update their resources.

“You know there is a lot of stigma around men’s mental health,” he said. “The fact that in the LGBTQ+ community, the rates of suicide and mental illness are significantly higher, I thought it was very important to try to expand on the resources we have.”

Although TPN has regained its SGA recognition post-COVID, the group plans to host more fun events to gain student recognition.

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“We’ll be collaborating with multiple other organizations on the revival of the Hofstra Drag Show, and there’s also an upcoming collaboration with the Career Center to highlight people from minorities and underrepresented careers,” Reiland said.

Reiland hopes that the organization’s revival will help them get more collaborations with other groups and students.

“I want people to know that LGBTQ+ life at Hofstra is back. And it’s growing faster than ever,” he said. “I think we’re going to be even better than we were before.”

For more information about TPN, their resources and upcoming events, you can find them on Instagram @hofstrapridenetwork.