Professor Tiffany French and Dr. Rocco Mzarinaccio are the cofounders of the Pride Center. ANGELINA PEREZ / COURTESY
By Angelina Perez, Asst. Features Editor & Web Editor
National Coming Out Day occurs every year on Oct. 11 and raises awareness regarding the LGBTQ+ community and promotes a safe and inclusive environment for all individuals. The Manhattan College Pride Center saw this as the perfect opportunity for last Wednesday’s grand opening.
The Quadrangle had the opportunity to talk with Jack Tiede, sophomore civil engineering major, who volunteers at the center alongside faculty and other students at MC.
“I volunteer here once a week on Tuesdays,” Tiede said. “This center is a great space for queer people on campus, especially for commuters who might find it hard to find somewhere to connect to the LGBTQ+ community.”
As students step into the center on the third floor of Kelly Commons, art works of rainbow butterflies in the shape of a heart alongside the wall welcome them inside. Neighbors with the Women and Gender Research Center, the center is home to a library located in the corner of the space filled with books involving the LGBTQIA+ community from their triumphant history to romance.
“The books in the library are donated primarily by alumni and faculty at the school,” Tiede said while showing The Quadrangle and a few of his friends his favorite books on the shelves. “That is something I wish I had when I was in middle school. It definitely would have made such a big difference for me. A lot of what I know about myself is through reading.”
Tiede emphasizes the importance of the center being a place of common ground for everyone, not just those from the LGBTQ community. They have snacks, tea and coffee on standby for everyone and anyone who wants to stop by and just hang out.
“While the space is called the pride center, it is for everybody,” Tiede said.“I have invited a lot of my straight friends to attend this event and they showed up and connected with other people. You don’t have to be gay to do that.”
Analia Santana, a junior communication major with a concentration in media production and a digital media art minor, is the current president of the Rainbow Jaspers here on campus and spoke during the opening alongside Rocco Marinaccio, Ph.D., and Tiffany French, co-directors of the new center.
“The pride center and the rainbow jaspers are two separate things,” said Santana. “So the center is for everyone, but focuses more on queer students, and then Rainbow Jasper’s is a student club that organizes all kinds of activities and events for students. The Rainbow Jaspers are not the only organization that can use the center’s space. If Fuerza Latina, BSU or even the crochet club to name a few groups on campus, wanted to host an event here, they could always use the pride center.”
Rocco Marinaccio, Ph.D., is an English professor here at MC as well as an alumnus from the class of 1981 who explained the importance of a safe community for LGBTQ+ members to Ronald Grey Ph.D. and Brother Daniel Gardner in the administration department during a ten-month-long process.
“Tiffany and I started realizing the need for a place for visibility for support where we could be together as students, faculty, employees and alums and just learn from each other and be visible to each other and to the institution at large.” Marinaccio explained.
Commuters will now have another space in Kelly Commons filled with diversity alongside the WGRC and the Multicultural Center.
“I think building a community of staff establishing visibility for queer students on campus is really important, especially for commuters,” Marinaccio told The Quadrangle. “A lot of commuters don’t necessarily have communities or homes to go back to where they feel safe, or where they’re out yet. So, a place where they can be out and build community is important.”
Marianccio explains the need for MC to have a welcoming space for those who are a part of the LBTQIA+ community beyond the pride center and throughout the classrooms and campus.
“It’s important to feel that you’re in a space where everybody, whether they’re queer like you or not, is welcoming and accepting of you,” said Marinaccio. “I think we have a pretty tolerant campus, but there are also moments of intolerance. And you know, there are people who have experiences, in classrooms, in the dorms, in athletic facilities and so on where there’s homophobia expressed, whether intentionally or inadvertently by bad jokes and microaggressions. And that’s a lot for people to endure, especially young people who are still figuring themselves out and don’t know how to respond to things.”
Marinaccio and the rest of the pride center’s faculty of staff and students have open arms to everyone here at MC and encourage them to stop by during office hours.
“Don’t be shy,” said Marinaccio. “Don’t be afraid. Don’t hesitate. We’re here. And you will get a welcome.”
Anybody interested in joining the pride center mailing list, volunteering or both can email email@example.com. The center is located in Kelly room 3.04, and keep an eye out for an email when the library is opened and ready for checkout.
Editor’s note: Karen Flores, Arts and Entertainment Editor conducted interviews.