Flying the Flag with Pride

Our College Co-Captain, Emily Knott, reflects on Pride Month in the context of our College theme – Care, Courage, Connection.

What does it mean to be proud? We’re all proud of different aspects of our lives, the people around us, and our personal accomplishments. Throughout our lives, we all yearn for recognition of our achievements, for our courage to be acknowledged and praised. At times something that may seem so simple to others requires immense determination and will from us, even just being yourself. During Pride Month we commemorate the continued bravery of the LGBTQ+ community and the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, whilst reflecting on our efforts as a College to empower the voices of queer individuals within our community.

Care, Courage, Connection, is our 2022 school theme. For me, being courageous meant wearing a ‘Vote Yes’ badge on my blazer back in Year 7 – insisting to anyone who’d give me the time of day that equality shouldn’t be political, that love shouldn’t be political, and that authenticity should be embraced. That was a point emphasised in my first address as College Captain, that school should be a place for all staff and students to be unapologetically and authentically themselves. I’d be lying if I said my identity didn’t influence my decisions as a leader. Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community means I’m actively seeking ways to ensure younger queer students have an easier school experience than I did. I utilise my experiences and leadership to ensure we have a community that allows all students to be proud.

To echo the words of historic queer activist L. Craig Schoonmaker, the Pride movement started because people “were very repressed” and “conflicted internally”, not knowing “how to come out and be proud”. In response to this, brave individuals challenged the status quo, radically suggesting, “Maybe I should be proud”. We have to demand change in order to see it. Sometimes you have to be the lone voice demanding action before a crowd rallies behind you. At St Leonard’s, we have curated an environment that aches to celebrate what makes us whole, what makes us individual, and what makes us proud.

Through groups like Senior School Social Action and the LGBTQIA+ Safe Space (both student facilitated!), STL is speaking up and articulating that we care. Through events like our ‘Music on the Rainbow’ this Friday and the active decision to be more inclusive in our language and structures at school – we are sending this message to everyone at the College that they are welcomed, and paving the path for a more inclusive future. We have to actively ensure that we care for everyone within this community, giving them the courage to be proud even when there are extra obstacles in the way.

What are you doing to ensure those around you are able to be proud? This June I implore all of you to start exploring ways to help remove these obstacles, to allow everyone the courage to be themselves.

American LGBTQ+ liberation and rights activist Sylvia Rivera once said “We have to be visible. We are not ashamed of who we are”, and I hope that one day all of us can definitively say that we are all able to be openly, authentically, and unapologetically proud.