“You Belong Here” Celebrating Pride Month

“You Belong Here” Celebrating Pride Month

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month! Pride was popularized by LGBTQ+ activists in the late 1960s, including an out bisexual, polyamorous nurse named Brenda Howard, who was known as the “The Mother of Pride.” It is fitting, therefore, that Johns Hopkins School of Nursing elevate LGBTQ+ voices with a Pride event on our campus. On Wednesday, June 26, 2024, the School of Nursing Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) hosted an event for Pride Month that featured “You Belong Here,” a documentary film that highlights the importance of allyship to the LGBTQ+ community and celebrates LGBTQ+ resilience in the rural South.

Dr. Jermaine Monk and Lauren Brereton Cox from the Office of DEIB learned about the film at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Diversity Symposium earlier this year during a presentation by Dr. Mark Hand, who has used the documentary as a teaching tool for nursing students at Eastern Carolina University College of Nursing. Dr. Monk and Brereton Cox invited Dr. Hand and two individuals from the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program at ECU Health Medical Center who are featured in the film, Brianna Dillard and Breanna Culler, MSW, to participate in a screening of the documentary and a related panel discussion at the School of Nursing. Dr. Kevin Frick from the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School was also invited to participate on the panel as a prominent supporter of projects that highlight LGBTQ+ experiences and promote inclusion within Johns Hopkins University.

Moderating the panel were two School of Nursing PhD candidates, Meredith Klepper and Carissa Lawrence, who currently serve as Student Chairs of the School of Nursing LGBTQI+ Health Initiative (LHI). The LHI is a group of students, faculty, alumni, and staff whose mission is to train a nursing workforce that provides equitable and affirming care for LGBTQI+ individuals and populations. The event was attended by students, faculty, and staff and featured a lively discussion about the development of the film, how it has been used as a teaching tool, how allyship can be employed in the classroom, the importance of visibility and centering LGBTQ+ experiences, and the positive impact that affirming allyship has on community members. A reception followed, in which audience members mingled with panel participants and conversations inspired by the panel continued.

Pride events such as these encourage dialogue and shift the narrative around LGBTQ+ lives from one of stigma, pathologization, and shame to one of affirmation, dignity, and inclusion. Pride started as an activist movement and a demand for LGBTQ+ equity and the School of Nursing is ideally suited to support such a cause. The Office of DEIB and the LHI group are committed to promoting LGBTQ+-inclusive and affirming content during Pride Month and all year long. Increased awareness during the month of June is just the beginning and can serve as inspiration to create and sustain positive change, carrying the torch lit by Brenda Howard and others.

About the Author

Meredith Klepper (they/them/theirs) is a 5th-year PhD candidate who is engaged in research focused on the health of Black transgender women and LGBTQI+-based nursing educational initiatives. They serve as the current Student Chair of the LGBTQI+ Health Initiative (LHI) and are the President of the LHI Student Group.

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