How long has Pellissippi Pride been going at Pellissippi State Community College?
The group went into remission a few years ago. This past semester some students who had been involved in local high school Gay Straight Alliances decided to revive it.
Were you in a high school GSA?
I was unable to start a GSA at my private school, but I was very much involved with other GSAs. We also had—and still have—a Facebook group for Knoxville Catholic that lets queer youth at Catholic know they aren’t alone.
What is Pellissippi Pride, exactly?
Our goal is to provide a safe area for those who consider themselves LGBT to come and talk and find ways to get involved with their community, along with straight allies. We want high schoolers to know that UT is not the only place that will support LGBT students. We also have a monthly film series. This Friday afternoon we’re showing the filmed-live-on-Broadway version of Rent for free.
Getting members has been slow so far?
Yes. We have over 100 members on the Facebook web page, but members who attend meetings, that number goes down to four or five. Part of that is being a community college; kids feel they won’t be here long and don’t see any reasons to dig roots. There are also kids on campus who do not feel safe being out. But at Pellissippi Pride we don’t ask that of you. You don’t have to be out to attend a meeting, which we hold in a private room. And our e-mail list is kept private by our faculty leader, Tyra Barrett.
Has the group been hassled at all?
I have not received any violent words or rudeness since I started at Pellissippi, and I am openly gay. It’s either a fairly supportive community or everyone keeps to themselves. Either way, I think it’s a great place for anyone who is LGBT to grow in their community.