PRIDE Flag a Message of Welcome and Hope
St. Jerome’s University (SJU) raised the PRIDE flag last week symbolizing a message of welcome and hope to all who come to campus. The flag marked the beginning of PRIDE month in June, paying homage to the June 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, which served as the catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world. SJU raised the Progress PRIDE flag on campus for the first time in 2020, making a statement that as a Catholic university it would remain focused on its guiding principles of hospitality to all, including strangers, the socially marginalized, and people who may not share its worldview.
Last year, interim SJU President and Vice Chancellor, Scott Kline, affirmed the importance of raising the flag and of people having a sense of belonging to a community. Specifically, he cited concerns for those in their 20s who identify with LGBTQ+: a group four to five times more likely to engage in self-harm, including suicide, than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. The flag is a means of reaching out to those students and letting them know that they matter, and that SJU is a place where they will be supported in their journey of discovering who they are, and who they want to become.
“We are a Catholic university called by the gospel to serve one another in love, truth, and justice,” noted Kline at the time. “As a Catholic university, we are guided by the virtue of hospitality… call(ing) us to be open toward others, including their ideas and experiences. Something happens when we are open to others: we are reminded that God’s creation is diverse, and we have much to learn from one another.”
The PRIDE flag, created in 1978 by American activist, artist, and designer Gilbert Baker, features stripes linked to the American flag, but in a rainbow of colours to which Baker assigned a meaning. Over time the colours have come to represent diverse and marginalized groups. The flag delivers a strong visual message of unity and the need to “Promote Respect, Inclusion, and Dignity for Everyone” (PRIDE). There are now several variations of the flag, including graphic designer Daniel Quasar’s Progress PRIDE flag. It features the addition of a five-coloured chevron placing greater emphasis on inclusion and progression.
“We will continue the tradition of demonstrating our commitment to the value of all students at St. Jerome’s University by raising the Progress PRIDE flag,” stated SJU’s current President and Vice Chancellor, Peter Meehan. “By doing so we serve our university’s mission and vision of stewarding our students to seek knowledge and truth, to act with compassion, and to advocate for human dignity for all.
“We offer students our promise that this is more than a visual gesture, and that peace and acceptance remain our message of hope for everyone who comes to our campus.”