Pride Center Hopes to Empower Community with New Library

With the opening of Manhattan College’s new pride center came their first “Buy us a Book” drive, geared towards alumni and staff. BARBARA VASQUEZ/COURTESY

By Barbara Vasquez, Staff Writer

With the opening of Manhattan College’s new pride center came their first “Buy us a Book” drive, geared towards alumni and staff. 

Rocco Marinaccio, Ph.D. and Tiffany French, co-directors of the center, sent invitations earlier this month welcoming those contacted to donate. 

The pride center’s first project was to create a substantial library for students, which is the reason they started the book drive. 

“We thought it was important in terms of representation and inclusion for the students to have access to books that tell stories comparable to their own lives.” Marinaccio said when asked about the directors’ reasoning behind focusing first on building a library. “And to also confirm that we’re part of the educational mission of the college, that LGBT culture and history are important material for students of all kinds to read about and understand.”

According to Marinaccio, the drive started with a simple Amazon registry. 

“We originally started with a wish list of 96 books, and we blew through those 96 books in the first 24 hours.” 

The amount of encouragement the pride center has gained since its announcement this summer has been outstanding.

 “We’re looking at about 300 books by now where none existed two weeks ago, and I think that is indicative of the level of support for the center and the sense of community that exists amongst alumni and employees,” Marinaccio said. 

Dr. Adam Koehler, an English professor and volunteer at the Pride Center’s front desk, shared his thoughts on the drive.

“The books are a range of historical, cultural, sociological, popular and scholarly– all different looks at the way in which the queer community has contributed to the culture that we live in,” said Koehler. “I can’t stop looking at all of the different books in the collection. People showed up and got amazing, amazing books.”

The support that the pride center’s book drive has received opens the door for future possibilities for the center. Anyone who wishes to become more involved now has a properly established place to do so.

 “Now with this space in the pride center, we can host things like book clubs- people have already floated more ideas of how people can get more involved with us,” said French.

The book drive was just the final touch needed to transform the pride center into a truly revolutionary place for students, staff and alumni alike at the college. Before its opening, there weren’t many strides to create a safe space for our LGBT+ students to feel recognized, and much less to push the knowledge of LGBT history. With the newly stocked pride center, students have opportunities they didn’t have before.

French shared their thoughts on the mission of the pride center itself.

 “I think it’s symbolic just to have the space; it allows people to feel a little bit more at ease with being who they are,” said French.

The center is also hosting many events in the coming weeks, including a screening of the documentary “Wonderfully Made, LGBTQ+R(eligion)” in collaboration with the department of religious studies, and “El Dorado: Alles, Was Die Nazis Hassen” in collaboration with the holocaust and genocide center. For more information, visit the pride center’s tab on the MC website.

The pride center will be acting as a ‘lending library’ shortly, so be sure to check out and utilize their new inventory of books! The center is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Kelly Commons room 3.04.