Posted June 16, 2020

Pride goes virtual

Students in Klein Professor Scott Gratson’s NYC Pride course curate a digital celebration.

Colorful abstract lights representing a digital space.
Photography By: 
Ryan Brandenberg
Temple celebrates Pride Month with a special topics course in which students create a digital marketing campaign to be broadcast on NBC and TUTV.

Pride exists today because of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, which took place over multiple days in the summer of 1969. There had been other LGBTQIA+ riots that preceded this movement, such as the Compton Cafeteria in San Francisco of 1966. Drawing inspiration from these movements and Civil Rights tactics, Stonewall gained nationwide attention for its massive participation.

At the time, heinous police raids and attacks against the LGBTQIA+ community happened frequently, and one night in June the community fought back. The riots began with Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman and Latinx-American drag queen, Sylvia River—these two individudals, and those who fought beside them, helped ignite the Gay Liberation Movement with the momentum it desperately needed.

Today, in tribute to this momentous retaliation, we celebrate LGBTQIA+ history and triumph towards an equal future throughout the month of June: Pride Month. 

And for Temple students, there is a special opportunity to celebrate.

Every summer, students have the opportunity to engage with The Special Projects class in the Department of Communication Studies, also known as the LGBTQ "Pride class," led by Scott Gratson, professor and director of communication studies at the Klein College of Media and Communication. This course also serves as an internship program, as it provides professional field experience.

Students learn of their acceptance to this program in January, and the class commences in March, with various meeting dates leading up to the NYC Pride parade in June.

Usually, students learn about the importance of Pride and its impact in NYC, where the first pride parade was hosted 50 years ago, to deepen their understanding in LGBTQIA+ history. They discover the function of Pride on a global scale, alongside expanding their knowledge of queer history. Last year was the students’ first time attending the Pride parade in NYC.

This year, to adjust with the times, Gratson’s students are taking this initiative online.

“We learned about the NYC Pride internship program through the communication studies director, Scott Gratson,” said Bleu Acosta, a senior communications major and NYC Pride intern. “We have had our internships since January 2020 and immediately got to work due to the amount of planning that goes into NYC Pride each year,” 

“This year is the 50 year anniversary [of the first Pride parade], so it was going to be one of the biggest yet. When NYC officials decided to cancel Pride due to COVID-19, we were given the opportunity to lead the digital pride campaign and be the bridge between NYC Pride and Temple University,” she added.

Through this program, students discover layers of LGBTQIA+ history, which presented the opportunity to use social media as a mobilization tactic to spread information and increase awareness around queer history and rights. 

The digital Pride campaign is entitled “The future is ______” and will be the pinnacle of our Owls’ diligent efforts to curate a collection of student voices, including a photo campaign and video segment that all Temple students can contribute towards. 

Viewers can participate in the social media campaign by sending in a picture of themselves followed with a caption explaining what the future of Pride is in one word. Then, participants are asked to give a brief description of why that word was chosen. Email for more information.

“This campaign is important to us because it allows us to use our skills to support and be allies to the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Sydnee’ Carter, a junior communication studies major and NYC Pride intern.

Last year was the first time students were able to march in the NYC Pride parade, and the camaraderie and energy was unlike any other.

“Marching next to my students, alumni, and faculty members all wearing the Temple Pride shirt… that’s a really moving event for us all,” said Gratson.

“I’m going to miss the sirens, the Harleys” he adds, reminiscing of the bisexual and lesbian motorists who open the Pride parade celebration.

However, this online initiative inspires new and exciting opportunities for more individuals around the globe to be involved in Pride. 

“Think about the kids in rural, conersvative communities. They may not be allowed to come out to any Pride event, but now that we’re going digital, we can reach a larger audience like never before,” said Gratson.

The student’s work provides a vital opportunity to educate other generations on LGBTQIA+ issues and foster a safer, more compassionate global community. 

“This program helps students gain a deeper understanding and the true importance of what Pride is and how it is vital to the acceptance, love and equality of all people,” said Carter.

The social media campaign will be posted during the week leading up to the anniversary and can be seen on both the Communication Studies (@kleincollegecommstudies) and NYC Pride (@nycpride) Instagram’s.

Students can email with any questions and can view the “The future is ______”  video segment on NBC on Sunday, June 28, as well as on TUTV. 

Nick Eiser