Pride Month, in June, honors the 1969 Stonewall Riots, also known as the Gay Liberation Movement. This year, the Haskell Alumni Association is showing its support for LGBTQ2S+ students and alumni during Pride Month by creating rainbow Haskell t-shirts. The shirts are on sale now for $30, including delivery; proceeds will go toward an event supporting the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Joel Hernandez (Navajo), president of the Haskell Alumni Association and 2013 alumni, says one of the reasons why he brought this idea to the board is because a couple of people from Facebook had mentioned the idea of Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) including Pride themes on some of their merchandise. Hernandez said, “… they were wishing for something they could wear during the month because they certainly enjoyed their time at Haskell…”
The Haskell Alumni Association tries to show its support for the students at HINU in any way it can. “… I think it’s very important to support our Two-Spirited family members because we’re all together, we’re all the same people, even though we’re different Nations we all are still one…” said Brittany Hall (Shawnee Tribe), Haskell Alumni Association Treasurer and 2012 alumni.
Chuck Masoka (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), a 2006 alumni, answered why it’s important that HINU shows its support towards the LGBTQ2S+ community, “I identify as a gay man, so my lens on this is coming from my own perspective. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, and two-spirited people have existed in our tribal communities since the beginning of time. We are a part of the community. We are artists, storytellers, scientists, educators, comedians, and leaders…colleges and universities have an obligation to provide a safe learning environment for every student. Recognizing that LGBT2S+ people exist and making an effort to communicate support is a great step in the right direction of enhancing that support of an inclusive learning environment.”
“That’s why Pride is so important, it’s about loving ourselves enough to advocate for equal protection under the law, and loving how we’re changing public discourse on who we love, how we love, and how that’s expressed. Haskell factors into this equation by being the only intertribal, federally run university in the nation, which will naturally become a home for native students from all across the country. There’s never been a better time for an institution like Haskell to support Pride. Why shouldn’t an institution take a moment to recognize and hold space for its members, students, staff, and faculty? It’s just acknowledging what was already there. It’s saying, ‘I see you. I honor you. You are welcome here,’ ” said Masoka
When asked about his reaction to the new t-shirts, Masoka said, “I was so excited! I wish it was around when I was still on campus, but I’ll be proudly rockin’ it this summer!”