PRIDE: One Man Finds His Sense of Identity Through the Rowan Community

Kayden crouches next to a large tree.

Today, we feature Kayden Heinz (he/his), a rising junior Writing Arts major. We strive to amplify all student voices, all year-round. To be featured, please contact rowanblog [at] 

Kayden discusses how Rowan has helped him to find his new sense of identity and community amongst those on campus. He also goes into how we as a campus community could break the current stigmas as well as improve class dynamics here at Rowan University for the LGBTQ+ community to make sure all students who identify as any pronoun, gender or orientation feel welcome and inclusive. 

Tell me how does Pride represent you and your story?

I’m transgender who identifies as a man. So I’ve related and connected with a lot of trans masculine men, especially because I know a lot of the people who I know personally have kind of questioned themselves as far as their sexual orientation as well, to which I relate back to the most in the reflection of my own journey. So that intersected with my question on which gender I preferred to date as well. There’s the transgender and bisexual experience that a lot of people with the same way of identifying all have in common. There are some differences, but at the end of the day Pride and what it stands for and the history behind that word of Pride that all makes us all as a community stand together and relate to each other.

Within some households, some of their children grow up in certain environments to which they are molded to not accept an another way of lifestyle that is out of the norm from what certain parents teaches us. Could you explain to me how the emotional process you experienced within yourself and your environment during the time of when you were still trying to identify who you truly were?  

For me it was very hard to come to terms with my sexuality because on both sides of my family I was the first granddaughter, so my femininity and birth was celebrated. For example whenever I showed up to family gatherings, my family would be like “Oh finally, the girl is here!” So on my end, I was going against what I knew my family was expecting and wanting out of me and just figuring it out. I kind of felt placed into a box, where even when I was still identifying as she/her I personally felt like I did not fit into that box. I was always kind of tomboyish, so I always felt like no matter what I was never what they were expecting.

A portrait of Kayden as he stands in front of a brick wall.

Do you personally feel like the best acceptance is self acceptance and the acceptance within your community? Or having the the acceptance of those around you in your community but also close loved ones? 

I feel like because that box [of gender] was established, stepping out of it almost made me feel like I would be a disappointment to those people closest to me. I felt like I was almost leaving behind who they thought I was due to the fact that was the number one characteristic that they knew about me was my sex and almost stepping out of that was just kind of where I questioned to myself: where do I go from there? As someone who has just recently come out, I’ve learnt to basically take everything one step at a time and I’m not trying to push myself to do everything all at once, and carry out my journey by taking baby steps when it comes to my new sexuality and I genuinely wanna protect my mental health and that’s my main priority as of right now. I think it’s really important to find your community that will support you, because you could only accept and love yourself so much if everyone around you is telling you who you are is wrong. Most queer youth grow up in communities that are telling them that they are wrong, and their sexuality or gender is taboo. So I stress the importance of finding that community who supports you as you go through the tough times of not only figuring out who you are, but also what you are.

Kayden sits on a couch with his reflection showing in a mirror.

What are a few stigmas within your community that you want to share a message about, on campus or within society today?

Transmen could be feminine, and transwomen could be masculine. Makeup and dresses does not make or break what your gender is; it’s what you feel on the inside and not how you present yourself and if you’re not able to present yourself in the way that you want to quite yet then that’s completely okay. There are many resources on campus, but the most important thing is to always have a sense of safety when it comes to disclosing your identity as well, especially if you know if you are in an environment where you know it’s not safe to come out.

How do you personally feel about the LGBTQ+ community here on campus, and do you feel as though you are being seen and heard across all departments here on campus? If not how could they personally do more to make all feel welcomed and accepted?

Before I was a Writing Arts major, I used to be another major in a STEM field. So being able to experience both class dynamics between both majors, I couldn’t help but to notice the difference between the approaches when it comes to the discussions about the LGBTQ+ community. In the classes I previously took, I noticed less of a range of discussion on the topic at hand – it was more of a binary male versus female, to where I found in the writing classes it’s more of a welcoming approach of them genuinely wanting to learn more of what do you identify as, pronouns, and preferred name – which to me is showcasing on how they could make you feel comfortable and heard. There are many clubs and organizations like PRISM, that you could join as well as events being hosted where you could find others within the community. There are also very supporting resources on campus as well like the Wellness Center, for an example for those who identify as transgender there is a group therapy program as well as a therapist who directly works with the group for those who prefer more of a one-on-one session.

Kayden sits for a portrait.

Describe to me your first year experience on campus as a transgender man compared to now – what were your challenges and setbacks and what were the moments in which you thrived. 

When I first started here at Rowan University, I identified myself with a different name and was previously using they/them pronouns and was living as more of non-binary person. I was very overwhelmed with college after doing online school for two years due to the pandemic. I had a bunch of things lined up for myself like working a part time job. Also, at the time, I signed up for the transgender group therapy here at Rowan, to which I personally found to be really helpful because Rowan offered a space for me to really express on how I was truly feeling about my gender that I did not feel necessarily comfortable talking about with who I was living with and also due to the fact that I sort of distanced myself from my previous friend group. So I felt the strong need to find that community that I knew would support me.

If you could give any advice to a student now or any incoming first year student who is currently figuring out their identity of who they are, what would it be and why? 

As much as the thought of this could be absolutely terrifying, you have to start firstly by attending events on campus or even within the Glassboro community. Social media also plays a big part as well, with people speaking about their own experiences. That’s where I personally figured out when I was transgender due to self-questioning my own identity and why I was feeling that way about myself. I also did my own research to help me to finally place a label on why I felt how I felt or questioning who I truly was. As someone who suffers from social anxiety, I kind of felt comfortable seeing other people’s authentic life’s through themselves before I could do the same for me as well. I strongly suggest taking baby steps, before you fully could be loud and proud with your identity for yourself personally as well on campus.

Kayden stands cross armed leaning against a tree.

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Story by: Tatiana Retamar, rising senior journalism major 
Photos by: Valentina Giannattasio, rising junior dance and marketing double major

Senior Reflects: Ella Emmer on Being PRISM President

Exterior shot of Bunce Hall lit in Pride colors.

Ella Emmer, a senior Psychology major with a minor in German from Somerset County, NJ, reflects on her experience as the PRISM club president and the legacy she hopes to leave on the organization.  

Ella has made her mark on Rowan University’s community. Her impact can be attributed to her efforts as PRISM president, an LGBTQ+ organization on campus.

“PRISM provides a safe space for members of the LQBTQ+ community to socialize, form friendships and be their true selves,” she says.

Ella stumbled across PRISM… literally.

“I got lost going to a study abroad meeting and I wandered into JoAnna Murphy’s office in the SJICR office. After we got to talking, she introduced me to PRISM. The meeting times fit with my schedule, so I started going to meetings regularly. I became really close with members of the e-board and passionate about activism, so I decided to run as secretary my sophomore year. After serving as secretary, I ran for president and have served in that role ever since,” Ella explains.

As president of PRISM, Ella manages a lot of events for the organization. “So much goes into planning and executing events for the club. I have to pick a venue, contract any guest speakers or entertainers that come out, and spearhead any fundraising necessary for the event.” 

Ella Emmer headshot in front of a PRIDE flag.

Ella was especially proud of PRISM’s role in the university’s Lavender Graduation ceremony, which recognizes and celebrates LGBTQ+ students and allies ahead of their respective college commencement ceremonies. 

“Lavender Graduation is very special to me. Since legal names have to be put on your diploma for graduation, it can oftentimes not reflect a person’s true identity. PRISM helps host a graduation that uses the person’s preferred name — their real name, to be recognized and honored for graduating as their true selves. I am speaking at the event and I could not be more proud to be a part of it.” 

Ella at the Lavender Graduation ceremony.
Ella (third from left) at the Lavender Graduation ceremony (credit: Desire Forman)

Along with hosting events, Ella leads e-board meetings as PRISM President. “During meetings, aside from preparing for events or upcoming fundraisers, we have an educational portion about LGBTQ+ history. Since LGBTQ+ history is not taught in schools, it is so important to learn about our history and all of the activists who got us here today,” she says.

As she reflects on her experience in the club, Ella looks back fondly on the memories she has made.

“I am really happy I got to be involved in an organization that makes a difference. Since I have been in PRISM, we have raised over $2,500 for LGBTQ+ organizations. This money has gone to not only big organizations, like The Trevor Project, but smaller organizations that aren’t as popular or advertised as well,” she says. “Aside from fundraising, I also worked with JoAnna Murphy with the SJICR to create a map for gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. This was a really important project to help others feel more comfortable on campus.”

Ella hopes the club continues to advance and do great things after she graduates.

“I hope the future of PRISM is bright and continues to make a positive impact for people in the community. Now that Covid is slowing down, I hope the new e-board can hold more events and partner with other organizations in the surrounding area for our members.” 

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Story by:
Loredonna Fiore, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos courtesy of:
Ella Emmer
Desire Forman

Pride Month: Hearing Their Voice, Emily Ward

Emily Ward smiles outside on campus.

Today we feature Emily Ward (she/they), a freshman from Mullica Hill, NJ. Emily is majoring in Physics and has a minor in astronomy. Emily discusses how their involvement in PRISM supports them while being a Rowan student and their journey through recognizing and being open about their identity. Story by:  Natalie DePersia, junior public relations […]

The Rowan Blog Team’s Favorite Posts of 2021

Drone shot over Wackar Stadium at sunset.

This year, Rowan Blog published more than 500 posts spotlighting the people and places that make Rowan University our home away from home. Here, members of our team revisit a few of these stories and select those that stayed with us as we bid farewell to 2021. 

Jars of Beekeeping Club honey packaged for sale.

Rowan Beekeeping Club Launches: A Q & A with President Michael Hoban

Read the full story here

“I loved learning about the Beekeeping Club by Michael. He was so passionate about this club and saving the bees. He informed me on so much information about bee pollination and extracting the honey. I was never educated on this information prior to interviewing him.” – Natalie DePersia, junior public relations major

Nicole smiles in the fiction stacks of Rowan Barnes and Noble.

Finding My Path and Passion with an English Degree

Read the full story here

“I believe [Nicole] shows that although she was not sure about what to do with her major at first, she ended up finding a job she loves and enjoys. I personally love this quote: ‘Here was a career path that let me balance my desire to help others with the analytical skills I’d developed as an English major.’” – Valentina Giannattasio, first year dance and marketing double major

Ayanna smiles at the New York City Pride Parade.

Ayanna Johnson Reflects on New York City Pride Parade

Read the full story here

“I love Ayanna — amazing personality, very vocal!” – Nene Diallo, senior public relations major

One of the pieces of artwork sold by Taylor at the Philadelphia Art Show.

Studio Art Majors Taylor Brown and Abby Leitinger Featured in Philadelphia Art Show

Read the full story here

“I thought this piece was so interesting. I loved learning about these two artists on the rise and the differences they hold while creating their pieces. It was interesting to see the art they produced and how they use different mediums.” – Natalie DePersia

Sarah and Madeline McClure hug at the Rowan Prof statue.

Sisters on SGA: Madeline and Sarah McClure

Read the full story here

“I was really happy with the way my photographs turned out, and I especially loved getting to meet and know Sarah and Madeline McClure. They were the absolute sweetest and such a joy to work with!” – Missy Pavorsky, junior advertising major

Victoria kisses her son Rowen on Rowan Boulevard.

Meet Transfer Profs: 3+1 Psychology Student and Mother Victoria Hable

Read the full story here

“Victoria’s story is an impactful one. Any story of a person being a parent and going to college is amazing, and I’m proud of all of them. However, Victoria’s story shows that even if there is an unexpected change during your college career, Rowan will help you get to the finish line.” – Rachel Rumsby, junior communication studies and public relations double major

Dr. Santos smiles inside Business Hall.

Faculty PROFile: Journey into the Entrepreneurial Mindset with Dr. Susana C. Santos, Rohrer College of Business

Read the full story here

“I first learned of Dr. Santos when she won the Excellence in Online Learning award from Rowan Global Learning and Partnerships (she has since won this award again, the first faculty member to do so). I was really impressed with the creativity and care she imbues into her instruction, especially when she couldn’t interact with students face-to-face. We also share a mutual love of the ‘How I Built This’ podcast, which Dr. Santos uses in her coursework.” – Christina Lynn, digital content strategist

A photo of Chloe as she graduated from Rowan at the Prof statue.

Rowan Abroad: Recent Graduate, Chloe Senatore, Talks Acceptance into Trinity College in Dublin

Read the full story here

“It showcases how amazing the Rowan English Department by highlighting the accomplishments of one of its students.” – Bianca Gray, senior English major

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Header photo: One of our favorite campus photos of the year, taken at sunset in Sept. 2021

Why Psychology Major Leah Boyle Chose to Study Close to Home

Leah stands in front of a tree on Bunce Green.

Today we speak with Leah Boyle, who recently graduated with a degree in Psychology. Leah comes from Haddonfield, NJ in Camden County and is a first-generation college student. She had been an on-campus resident all four years and worked as an RA (Resident Assistant) for the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community in Holly Pointe for the last two years.

Why did you choose a university close to home? 

My sister went [to Rowan]. She’s a year older than me and she graduated last year. We are very, very close and when she went to Rowan, I knew that they had a great psychology program. We were roommates in Holly Pointe my freshman year. We had an apartment together with our friends. She’s one of my best friends. That was why I chose [Rowan] and it ended up being a great opportunity. Everything about it has been awesome. It was more for family. 

How do you carve out an identity for yourself if you are with a sibling in the same place? 

Shannon, my older sister, specifically was an Art major. She was working on that, and I became interested in the Social Justice office. [I] started working at the office of Social Justice Inclusion and Conflict Resolution (SJICR). I worked on their programming and it got me thinking about what we do for our queer students, which got me to becoming an RA. She ended up making a club for women in our arts programs (Women of Westby, W.O.W). I was able to get my residence to come to W.O.W. events and she was able to bring the arts to my residence. So we were able to connect a lot [that way]. She was really successful in her art. I was doing my psychology and social justice stuff. We started out the same but went in different directions.

Leah wears glasses and a Rowan t-shirt smiling in front of Bunce Hall.

Did you ever feel overshadowed by having a sibling here? 

Well, I’m not an artist! I didn’t really know much about how Shannon is such a good artist until I would meet with her in the art building. [We’d] go get food together, see her stuff and [witness] people talk about her and her art. She is an incredible oil painter. So I didn’t [feel] overshadowed because I don’t do a lot in the arts. I took an oil painting class last semester on Zoom and had to call her every day to get tips. We had our own things that we specialized in. It was good to see her grow in her art. She got a lot of involvement in social justice too.  

What was it like to live with your sister in a university location after living together for your whole life? 

It was much messier because we had bigger rooms now. We’ve shared a room since I was seven. I say everything that is hers is mine. She lives in Maryland now. It’s a lot more arguments about where things should be put, but it was great. My sophomore year we had an apartment with four other friends in university housing. It was really great because there’s no one you could be more honest with than your sister. I could say, “I can’t be around you right now.” I can be honest with my roommate because she is my sister.

Rowan was really accommodating to [me] living with a sophomore my freshman year. They had no problems and they were so happy for us. I’m happy we were able to do it because now she’s doing her own thing. I’m moving after this. I’m going to grad school at Montclair State University.

Leah chats with her friend Kevin on Bunce Green.

Do you have any other majors, minors or CUGs? 

I took Child Life courses at University of California Santa Barbara, where I study hospitalization. I’m going to Montclair State for Child Psychology. 

What is it like not living with your sister? 

In the beginning, it was kind of a bummer. I’m happy I didn’t have to go live with someone who wasn’t her. I got used to it. It’s a little far (I’m up near New York) so we make weekends to see each other. She calls me and I call her probably a little too much. It’s not so bad, we’re [still] in constant contact.

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

Queer Voices: VP of Student Life Drew Tinnin

This interview was originally featured on the Queer Voices Instagram page @queer_voices. 

Biomedical Art and Visualization major Emerson Harman created the Queer Voices Project, which is working “to amplify LGBTQ+ student, faculty, and alumni voices at Rowan University through portraits and interviews.” You can also find more of their content here.

Drew posing outside the Chamberlain Student Center with a red mask on.

Name, pronouns, and identity?

I am Drew Tinnin, I use he/him/his pronouns, and I identify as a gay male.

What is your position at Rowan, and when did you start?

I am currently the Associate Vice President for Student Life here, so I work a lot with campus involvement such as the Student Center and Rec Center, orientation, student leadership, and clubs and organizations. I started in 2010 working with orientation and student leadership programs. 

When did you come out as LGBTQ, and why then?

I’m from a fairly small, conservative town in middle-of-nowhere Missouri that had about 8,000 people and 160 people in my high school class. I went to college at a school very similar to Rowan there in Missouri, and came out during college because it was really an environment that was more conducive to me. I met many accepting faculty and staff I interacted with that supported me throughout my coming out process in college. 

Has being LGBTQ+ impacted or influenced your career, and if so, how?

Education in general is fairly accepting and so that has probably contributed to my career choice. I originally was planning to be a high school speech and theater teacher, which is what I was going for in my undergrad. I really got involved in college, was an RA and a member of student government, and by working with the different staff I learned that higher education is a thing too, which is why I decided to pursue my career in higher ed. I went to grad school right after undergrad for higher ed at Bowling Green in Ohio, which is actually where I met my then-future husband as a grad student. My career choice has definitely been part of my coming out and identity development.

How has LGBTQ culture and acceptance changed throughout your time here at Rowan?

Even in 10 years here at Rowan, I’ve definitely seen a lot of changes. When I started, we only had one [LGBTQ+] student organization, the Gay-Straight Alliance. Over time I have seem the Gay-Straight Alliance morph into what is now Prism, and we now have many more queer student organizations. I was the first advisor for True Colors, which started because some trans students didn’t feel that they had the type of space that they wanted in Prism, so they started their own organization. Now we also have Queer People of Color, Out in STEM, and a variety of other opportunities for students, which is something that has definitely increased over the years.

There have also been some campus policies and things that we’ve tried to do to support students that I’m proud to be a part of. We were one of the first schools in the state to implement preferred name policies for students. We’ve also done a lot of work with single-user restrooms that are more accessible on campus, as well as some more inclusive housing options where students can choose roommates without consideration for sex or gender identity. When we built Holly Pointe, the gender neutral bathrooms were certainly something we wanted to make sure were included. 

What would you say to a student or youth who’s struggling with their identity, either personally or with others?

I definitely think it’s a process that’s different for a lot of people, but I hope students are able to find the support and resources that they need here. I’ve found a lot of students and faculty are accepting and welcoming, and both wanting to learn more about others while also being supportive. I know it can be super scary to talk about identity, especially if you are questioning or just coming out, but in my experience, it really helped when I started talking about my identity with others.

For new students, I would just encourage them to get involved and explore their new community! We have many LGBTQIA+ student organizations and resources, and they should not hesitate to check them out no matter how they identify.

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Queer Representation In the Media: Mandi Devers’ “Flip The Script”

“Flip the Script,” by Rowan alumna Mandi Devers, is an award-winning audio documentary on queer representation in the media. Mandi’s doc covers how much representation is out there, how characters in media are being represented, and the ways in which queer representation still needs to improve. Mandi graduated from Rowan in May 2020 with a Radio/Television/Film degree and Audio Recording minor, which she completed in three years.

How did you become involved with Rowan Radio?

“I went to a vocational high school and I was part of the video/audio editing program. When I got to college I wanted to do as much as I could with that because I had a lot of fun doing it in high school, but I started late. I didn’t want to miss out again, so in my first semester I signed up for Rowan Radio and I was there the entirety of my college career.”

How would you describe your experience with Rowan Radio?

“It was a very fun place to hang out. Even when we were doing serious work it was still fun work to do, and the amount of things I have learned from there, I don’t know if I could have gotten that anywhere else.”

Rowan Radio is a licensed radio station and club opportunity for students. Anyone can join and undergo training to learn the necessary skills and knowledge about radio and production. “At that time it was the closest I would get to how an actual radio station runs and it needed to be treated as such, which is why training is so necessary,” says Mandi.

Mandi outside Bozorth Hall with Rowan Radio sign.

What was the process of the documentary like and how long did it take?

“It took a couple of months. It started off as a semester-long project for a class. Some of the process included figuring out what topic I wanted to do, how I wanted to explain it, and what I wanted to say. Also, I had to find people to interview and then come up with questions to ask them. I gathered examples I wanted to include and then it was another month of editing. It got tricky at times, for example, it took an entire day to select the outro music because nothing felt right. The professor of that class was the Assistant Station Manager for Rowan Radio. He selected a couple of documentaries from the class to play on air, mine being one of them.”

Mandi shared that she grew up having a lot of queer friends and she found herself wanting to educate others on the topic. Even in high school and all through college, Mandi took every opportunity she had for a class project to talk about the LGBTQ+ community. “I want people to know about these things so they’re less stigmatized and less misunderstood.”

Since releasing “Flip The Script,” do you feel Hollywood and the media have improved queer representation in TV and film? 

“A bit. I think there is still a way to go, but I think it’s becoming more mainstream. A big step is media, TV, film, and books having queer protoganists and characters without making the story about that. Making queer just another characteristic like hair color or eye color.”

What are some ways you think the media could do better in regards to queer representation?

“Just expanding on the types of representation that are out there and the identities being represented. There is a lot of representation for lesbians, gays, and we’re seeing more transgender roles, but there are many more identities that are often left out. It’s important to show these, because the more they’re shown, the more normalized they become to the audience and the closer they become to ending the stigma surrounding these identities.”

What do you think is a good, diverse example of queer representation in TV or Film?

“In the documentary, I talked about [the TV show] ‘One Day At A Time,’ and I think that’s a really good one because it has one of the main characters written as a lesbian and when she finds a partner, the partner is nonbinary and so the show includes pronouns as well. It was really refreshing since I had never seen a nonbinary character on TV.”

Mandi earned three awards for the documentary, including third place under the Radio Feature category in the 2020 Garden State Journalism Association Memorial Journalism Awards, first place for the Society of Professional Journalists (Region 1) and a Hermes Creative Platinum Award. 

Mandi in cap and gown.

I see your radio documentary received three awards, could you expand a little on what these awards mean to you?

“All of these awards proved to myself that I made quality work because I was more stressed about the quality and the editing of my work, than making it. I was very concerned with making it the best product I could put out or making it the best story in the most efficient way.”

How did you come about submitting your documentary? 

“A lot of the submitting was through the professors and advisors who allowed me to do so. Leo Kirschner and Derek Jones, who work at the radio station, helped put my submission through to the organizations to be nominated, judged and awarded.”

Mandi hopes her listeners will understand that these identities are normal and are prevalent in our society today. “In order to accept that we need to show it being accepted. And the more we show it’s accepted, the more accepted it already will be. With all the media that we consume, I think that’s one of the best ways to do so,” she says.

For more information and to listen to “Flip The Script,” visit here.

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Story by:
Caitlyn Dickinson, public relations and advertising graduate 

Photos courtesy of:
Mandi Devers

Welcoming Incoming LGBTQIA+ Students to the Rowan Community

Students carry a Pride flag outside Bunce Hall.

Though we approach the end of Pride Month, we will soon usher in a new class of Rowan Profs. Here, faculty and staff offer their tips for incoming LGBTQIA+ first-year and transfer students. 

Headshot of Brent Elder.

I think Rowan’s proximity to Philadelphia and the queer community is a wonderful asset to new students. In addition to the support and services Rowan has to offer, there are exciting events that happen annually in Philadelphia like Philly Pride in September and OutFest held in October. Also, I’ve personally attended the socials/lunches provided by the LGBTQIA+ Center and have found that to be a fun way to connect with the queer community on campus. 

Brent Elder, Ph.D. 
Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education Department, College of Education

Headshot of Drew Tinnin.

For new students, I would just encourage them to get involved and explore their new community! We have many LGBTQIA+ student organizations and resources, and they should not hesitate to check them out no matter how they identify.

Drew Tinnin, Ed.D.
Associate Vice President for Student Life
Division of Student Life

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Ayanna Johnson Reflects on New York City Pride Parade

Balloon arch and flag at pride parade

As we approach the end of Pride month, senior Ayanna Johnson shares her experience attending this year’s New York City Pride Parade.

Describe the feeling of being at this event.

“It is hard to describe the joy of pride but if I had to choose I would say magical, warm and accepted.”

Anything that stood out to you the most during this event?

“How many older people were still out supporting, they had to live through so much for us queer people to have the freedom to live.”

Ayanna wears a Pride flag at the New York Pride Parade.

Did this event have a positive impact on you? Why or why not?

“Yes, it definitely made me feel like I belonged somewhere special, around people who are like me and it felt nice to not have to be anxious about what if they find such a big part of you offensive.”

What if anything did you dislike about this event?

“There were so many people littering.”

You mentioned this was your favorite day of the year? Why is that?

“The day of the pride parade is like a second birthday for a lot of queer people, it is a time completely dedicated to loving who you want and it feels so special and awesome. Overall, the environment is amazing.”

Would you recommend others to attend this event in the future? Why or why not? 

“Everyone enjoys different environments, if you like being around people then it’s perfect but you don’t have to go to the parade to have pride in who you are.” 

One special thought?

“It feels good to lift up the chain of pretending to be something you’re not.” 

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Story by:
Nene Diallo, senior public relations major

Header photo courtesy of:

Queer Voices: Rowan Global Student Denzell Moore

This interview was originally featured on the Queer Voices Instagram page @queer_voices. 

Biomedical Art and Visualization major Emerson Harman created the Queer Voices Project, which is working “to amplify LGBTQ+ student, faculty, and alumni voices at Rowan University through portraits and interviews.” You can also find more of their content here.

Denzell smiling and posing for a photo outside the engineering trail.

Name, pronouns, and identity?

Denzell Moore, he/him, bisexual 

What is your year in school and your major?

Graduate student in Higher Education Administration

When did you come out and why then?

I feel like I’ve never formerly came out because I was outed. Since then I choose when and who I come out to on my terms. Now that I am more comfortable with myself, I see sharing my identity with people as a privilege for them to further understand me. 

Has being LGBTQ impacted or influenced your education in any way? If so, how?

In regards to my education being bisexual has made notice a lot of the extra steps LGBTQ+ folks have to take to feel and respected in their learning environment. In class discussions around sexuality, I often contemplate whether or not to out myself and how that will change how my peers and professors will see me.

Has LGBTQ culture/acceptance at Rowan changed throughout your time here?

Initially when I arrived at Rowan I wasn’t sure about Rowan’s LGBTQ acceptance. It wasn’t until homophobic/transphobic protestors made their way onto campus (spring of 2019) that I was able to see how accepting Rowan was regarding LGBTQ+ people. While this was taking place many faculty, students and staff of all backgrounds displayed their rejection of these protestors’ ideals by verbally counter protesting and posing with the Pride flag in support. It wasn’t until then I was able to accurately see how accepting and supportive Rowan’s campus can be.   

Selfie of Denzell in Campbell Library.

What is something you would like to see changed at Rowan with regard to LGBTQ life?

While I was pursuing my undergraduate degree at Rowan, I served as Public Relations Chair for Prism (a LGBTQ+ advocacy group at Rowan). During this time I heard the grievances of a few trans students regarding making sure they were not addressed by their dead name by professors (even after telling their professors their preferred name). I would like to see a change in Rowan in which trans students do not have to endure this uncomfortable situation.

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#PROFPRIDE: Faculty Shares Advice

Dr. Stephen Fleming is Assistant Dean for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He offers his perspective and resources for incoming or current LGBTQIA+ students.

Stephen Fleming standing outside of Bunce Hall while wearing a blue suit and tie.

1. You are not alone. 

College is a very common time for students to question their sexuality and/or gender identity. You are not alone, and there are resources available on campus to help you through the process.

2. It is OK to not know. 

We live in a world of labels and many of us strive to fit into one of them. Understandably, students can feel pressure to quickly commit to knowing who they are and who they like. But, it’s OK to not know and to take your time in exploring these aspects of your identity.  

3. Get involved.

There is so much value in getting involved with peers and educators who have similar interests as you. Whether it be a club, sport, campus employment or something else, these involvement opportunities can help you feel a sense of belonging at Rowan. Even better — you can meet new friends and build your resume in the process!

4. Assert your Name.

Rowan has a preferred name policy as part of our effort to ensuring all feel valued and welcome. If you are not being called by the preferred name that you listed on Banner, don’t be afraid to respectfully address it with your faculty, peers, etc. Almost always, the mistake is not intentional and folks are happy to do all they can to do better.

5. RU a LGBTQIA+ ally?

There are spaces for you on campus also! Don’t miss your opportunity to show your support for LGBTQIA+ members of the campus community. It is noticed and it means a lot.

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, music industry graduate

Photo of Dr. Fleming courtesy of Queer Voices Project

Queer Voices: Psychology Major Ella Emmer

This interview was originally featured on the Queer Voices Instagram page @queer_voices. 

Biomedical Art and Visualization major Emerson Harman created the Queer Voices Project, which is working “to amplify LGBTQ+ student, faculty, and alumni voices at Rowan University through portraits and interviews.” You can also find more of their content here.

Name, pronouns, and identity?

My name is Ella Emmer, my pronouns are she/her, and identify as gay.

What is your year in school and your major?

I’m a junior Psychology major and am also pursuing a minor in German.

A selfie of Ella with a rainbow Pride flag in the background.
When did you come out as LGBTQ+, and why then?

Unfortunately, the first part of my coming out journey was being outed. I got outed my sophomore year of high school to my field hockey team, my coaches, and the entire athletic wing. I had a lot of different friend groups and so it was kinda divided. My friends in the theater wing didn’t find out until I chose to come out my junior year.

The first time I chose to come out I felt like it was almost a form of activism. I was in my high school psychology class and I heard really harmful and derogatory words being thrown around and so I turned around to the group of guys saying those harmful things and I said, ‘Well, what’s wrong with being gay,’ which immediately shocked everyone into silence. He tried to defend it and be like ‘Well Daniella, what would you do if a girl came up and tried to kiss you, wouldn’t you think it’s weird,’ and despite not being out to anyone in the school except that one athletic section, I said, ‘I’d kiss her right back’ and then he was like ‘Oh so you’re a dyke’ to which I said yes.

It was a very uncomfortable experience and it was extremely embarrassing in the moment, but it’s something I look back on with pride because I wanted to make a statement. I didn’t like how no one was saying anything, especially the teacher because I knew he was hearing what was happening. After that class I had a really long and meaningful talk with my high school choir director and he said something that has stuck with me since. He said, ‘Empower yourself and live in your light,’ and that’s something I still live by today. 

​Has being LGBTQ impacted or influenced your education?

Being gay, one of the criteria I looked at when choosing a college was how accepting of LGBTQ students they were and the resources they have for our community. When I saw that Rowan has various LGBTQ+ clubs and the SJICR center, it made me feel very at-home and comfortable, and also I’ve always been someone who loves activism and social justice work, so finding Prism felt like a perfect fit. It felt like a great balance between being a social group for LGBTQ members to meet each other as well as pursuing activist work.

I also want to be a trauma therapist, and part of my mission is to advocate and support LGBTQ+ individuals because unfortunately, people in the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to face trauma. 

​​Has LGBTQ culture and acceptance changed throughout your time at Rowan?

In my experience, I’ve always felt that Rowan has been a very accepting place. I’ve loved to see Prism grow over the years. When I first started it was a small, tight-knit group and now we’re still a family but it’s amazing each year to see more and more people join the family and it makes my heart so happy.

How has attending Rowan helped you in finding an inclusive community?

I was lucky enough to find Prism early on and because of that, I met some of my closest friends. I found people who understood and related to experiences I’ve had. There’s a bond that comes from facing similar oppressive situations. While extremely unfortunate, we all understand what it’s like to be rejected for who we are, and have faced discrimination in one form or another. I’m so lucky to have found Prism and all of the amazing people in the club.

Were there any faculty that you particularly enjoyed, inspired you and/or made you feel you had a safe space?

I initially met JoAnna Murphy by accident, but ever since she has been the person I go to for everything. JoAnna exudes traits that the rest of this world needs to adopt. I truly admire her compassion, authenticity, and dedication to create change in the world. She is a woman and activist I strive to emulate. I feel so lucky to know her and have her as a mentor.  JoAnna has undoubtedly affected my experience at Rowan in an extremely positive way.

Is there anything you would want to see changed at Rowan in regards to LGBTQ+ life?​

I’ve heard many painful stories that my friends have shared about their professors aren’t using the right pronouns or the right name. I feel that that is completely unacceptable and there is no reason why professors or anyone for that matter can’t respect someone’s identity. In the future I would hope to see change implemented that holds all professional staff to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all of their students.

Anything else you want to discuss?

The journey of figuring out your identity can be extremely terrifying and it can feel isolating, but I want people to know that they’re not alone in any of it and that they have a community. They’re exactly valid and worthy for who they are and if anyone ever needs support or a safe person to talk to, just know that I’m an email away.

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#PROFPRIDE: Learning to Embrace Myself

The front of Bunce Hall being lit up at night with rainbow colored lights

Today, from a member of our Rowan Blog team: “In honor of Pride Month, I wanted to share my own story in grappling with and understanding my sexuality.” 

Dealing with my sexuality has never been an easy task since it isn’t something that can be easily placed into one box. My identity in general intersects at multiple points that, until recently, have been viewed as separate entities.

I’m Black, which subjects me to racial discrimination; but I’m also a girl, which dips this racial discrimination/prejudice in a coat of misogyny known as misogynoir. However, I can acknowledge that in spite of the fact that I have experienced misogynoir throughout the duration of my life, I also experience privilege in that I have never and will never experience colorism which is something that my darker brothers and sisters have been subjected to for years that I, in spite of being a Black girl, will never know. These conflicting intersections of my racial identity have already complicated how I view myself and how the world views and  interacts with me sometimes leaves me confused. This confusion was only heightened when I fully embraced by bisexual identity. 

I’ve known I wasn’t straight ever since I was a child and always did my best to hide it knowing that people aren’t exactly accepting of people whose identities stray too far from the social norm. Growing up, I saw my other peers who were more open about their sexual identities be the targets of bullying and harassment, which only caused me to further retreat into myself and hide that part of my identity. In middle school, I was already a Black child in a predominantly white school whose mother couldn’t afford many of the same luxuries that my peers had, which made me an easy target. I knew that disclosing my sexual orientation would only make this harassment worse, and maybe there was a bit of privilege in that in some capacity. 

There is no way to look “gay,” “straight,” or anything else but people often associate certain characteristics with a person’s sexuality which is so ignorant but it was a part of growing up and something people (on all points of the spectrum) still actively do in their adult life. The fact that I didn’t have any of those perceived characteristics allowed for me to hide in plain sight and would continue to allow me to hide if I wasn’t no longer ashamed of my sexuality or the woman I’m becoming. It’s actually at Rowan University where I was able to get in front of a group of my classmates and openly say, “I’m bisexual” and not care what people think, and the response I got was very warm and welcoming. 

I won’t lie and say I now live a life without fear, but I do live a life where I care less about what people think. While my sexuality is no one’s business, it is also not something I’m ashamed of. If it comes up in conversation, then I have no problem disclosing it and, if anyone has a problem with it, then that’s not something that will weigh on me. In the words of Nicki Minaj, “I am who I am because I am who I am.” Take it or leave it. 

Girl in flannel shirt sitting on a rock and smiling.

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Story by:
Bianca Gray, senior English major

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

RJ Wentzell, senior exercise science major

#PROFPRIDE: Filmmaker Riel Dioquino on “Beyond His Closet”

Riel wears his graduation regalia and squats by a tree.

Today we speak with Riel Marc Dioquino (he/him), who recently graduated with a degree in Radio/Television/Film (RTF) and a concentration in Production. Riel hails from Burlington Township and is a first-generation college student. He also participated in Cinema Workshop and earned recognition for this short documentary, Beyond His Closet, in the Edelman College of Communications & Creative Arts Student Showcase. Beyond His Closet follows Adam Kowalski in his journey after coming out. Riel also earned recognition for his narrative film, Lost & Found, at the 7th Annual RTF Media Festival.

Why is this a relevant story to share? 

Anyone that’s in the LGBTQ+ community, we hear a lot of stories of people coming out, but little do we hear stories of what happens after. There are a lot of inner demons you still have to work with maybe your whole life you’ve closeted yourself and you’ve hidden your identity for so long. That affects your way of living and you have to find a way to find yourself again.

This goes back to the concept of coming in, which is what Adam talks about [in the documentary]. The concept of coming out is that you tell everyone, your friends and your family that you’re gay or bi, or whoever you are. Coming in is just as important because it means you’re coming into yourself. You’re starting to explore the good and bad sides of yourself and become more comfortable in your own skin. That’s what this whole story of Adam and this documentary focuses on, not just the process of coming out, but going through life afterward and finding yourself again. 

Is there anything else you want viewers to realize or feel after watching the film? 

Coming from my personal struggles, I think from what Adam says at the end to keep going through life and keep moving forward, I think that makes us stronger. 

I just hope anyone that watches this feels the hopefulness and the strength Adam shows. I think Adam is a really strong person, and having that film in mind kind of helped me mentally prepare for my surgery [Riel currently has a broken arm that required surgery]. I feel like we should just appreciate life as it is, not take life too seriously and just continue on regardless of whatever you’re are going through, I think that’s what’s going to make your life the fullest.

Adam, wearing glasses and a black t-shirt, plays the guitar on his porch.

How did you prepare Adam to be your documentary subject? 

I did a pre-interview with Adam before we started shooting for the film. We met up and talked about his life for a few hours that first day. After I knew a little bit about him, I had my questions lined up so that he could talk about: his childhood, his process of coming out, what happened after he came out and then a wrap-up of what he thinks about his life.

How long did it take to film the documentary? 

On all phases of production, it took a whole semester. This film was for my TV Documentary Field Production class. I had Professor Jonathan Olshefski and I chose to do it independently, which was a tough job to carry but it wasn’t too bad. Thankfully, I had Prof. Olshefski to guide me. 

Surprisingly, it took four days to film the documentary. Before and during those film days throughout the semester, I had to find a subject, pre-plan the shoot, plan all the equipment, then commute to get all of the equipment from the RTF room. Once production was done, I edited everything at home. 

Beyond His Closet film cover photo showing Adam playing the guitar while barefoot.

In the future, what kind of films do you want to make? 

I’ve honestly never really thought of that because I’m always thinking about what’s the next job to do. I just graduated and I always get asked, “What’s your plan? Do you have any jobs lined up?” It’s the pressure of “What is next?” or “You have to keep going even though you have no idea where to go” that kind of scares me.

I always thought about maybe doing freelancing or production assistant jobs. Personally, I never thought of making a documentary or a huge film because it’s not usually my thing. But, if anyone asked me to join their project, I would!  

For my Instagram posts, I play around with a lot of lighting and smoke on concepts for my photo/video shoots. Recently, I’ve been wanting to get out of my basement to do more photo/video shoots in nature for a change. The way I work with projects on Instagram or non-jobs is more about expressing myself, what I feel in the moment, and what I need to get out of my chest into visuals. Then I’m onto my next project. 

I used to make a lot of dark, emo, Billie-Eilish-inspired projects where I’m in this dark void, but recently I want to make more projects where I feel free with the use of outside nature. 

Going back to the making of my documentary, it can be hard for filmmakers to create a documentary if you don’t understand the energy of the person. That’s what brings life to it, showing compassion and deep feelings about it. Not just the way people talked in the interview but the way you edit it, the way you shoot b-roll, and how you use lighting. Everything influences how you want to portray this person’s life on screen.

Riel looks contemplatively into the golden sunset with his hand on his face.

Is there anything else you want to share about the film? 

I just thought it was cool how I was able to be comfortable enough to dive deep in this subject of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community and exploring someone’s life through that. I definitely would give credit to my production classes especially my Video Art class because I was able to express myself and be open about being gay through projects where I was given the freedom to make whatever I want. From that, I felt open to doing the documentary on Adam which I am very grateful for.

What’s your message to people during Pride Month or are you keeping anything in mind during Pride Month? I feel like I’m a newbie at being openly gay because this is the first year where I’m actively expressing my identity through projects where I’m able to tell people my struggles with being gay. 

I have social anxiety, I’m very introverted, and I’m Asian. My advice for people is that there’s always going to be a group for you even if you think there’s not. 

Keeping that fire or spark alive is so important. Do what makes you happy. When I grow up, I don’t want to regret not doing the things I wanted to do. I don’t want to have an unfulfilled life when my time comes. Having that mindset helps me move forward and blocks out all the negativity. Letting go of all the tension in your chest and just doing whatever you want helps bring a lot more meaning to your life. I know it won’t be easy but I think it’d be worth the shot if you tried.

Check out more of Riel’s work at:

Instagram – @rmarc99

Portfolio Website – 

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos by:
Riel Dioquino, radio television film graduate

Queer Voices: Theatre Major Tyler “TJ” Jacobs

This interview was originally featured on the Queer Voices Instagram page @queer_voices. 

Biomedical Art and Visualization major Emerson Harman created the Queer Voices Project, which is working “to amplify LGBTQ+ student, faculty, and alumni voices at Rowan University through portraits and interviews.” You can also find more of their content here.

TJ smiling while wearing a rainbow headband.

Name, pronouns, and identity?

I am Tyler “TJ” Jacobs, my pronouns are he/him/his, and I am a gay man.

What is your year in school and your major?

I am a junior Theatre major at Rowan University.
When did you come out as LGBTQ+, and why then?

[laughs] Ok, this is actually a really funny story. So there is never a right time for anything. I actually came out twice, and the first time was of my own accord. I was in 8th grade, and I had attended an open house at my sister’s elementary school with my family and my sister. My sister’s school had one of those “cafetoriums” where there’s a stage in the cafeteria, and I had gone up on the stage and had done some kind of flourish or something, and my mom was like, “Be careful Tyler, do something like that and people might think that you’re gay.”

I said “Haha, yeah,” and she said, “It would be ok if you were,” and I was like, “Cool, that’s good to know.” 

That in mind, we were going out to the car, and I said, “Well, I am gay.”

My stepdad laughed and said ok, but my mom proceeded to freak out. She pulled every emotional trick to basically force me back into the closet, and that was not great. She had said it would be okay, so I had been like, well, there’s no better time than the present, and it turns out the present was not a great time. Later, sophomore year of high school, I had two of my friends over. My friend, who I had a crush on at the time, and I were cuddling and my mom came in and said “Stop that.” Well, obviously, we didn’t stop, and then she came back and said​ that I needed to come downstairs, while my friends were still in my room, and then had this entire confrontation with me that was forcing me out of the closet. Now everything’s fine, we have a great relationship. My mom doesn’t have a problem with it; she did research on her own to figure out what was going on, and we have a great relationship now. Certainly back then, things were a bit rocky.

Has being LGBTQ impacted or influenced your education?

Not really in any negative way. Generally, I’ve been pretty blessed with being a white cis man, who is also straight-passing, that I haven’t had any backlash. I mean, I’ve been called “fag” only twice in my life, and not so many are that lucky. 

Has LGBTQ culture and acceptance changed throughout your time at Rowan?

I’m in the theatre department, so I’m just generally around a large amount of LGBTQ+ people, but I haven’t really felt super connected to a larger community of LGBTQ+ people as a whole at Rowan. I haven’t felt that at all. I haven’t really experienced any hatefulness or anything from the general public, besides being called “fag” once, but that was one time out of three years. Ultimately, it doesn’t feel like there’s a huge presence with any of the LGBTQ+ organizations. I know that they’re there, but I’m never able to attend because of my schedule.

This year I’m really, really trying to reach out and connect to other people in the community because in general LGBTQ+ youth do not get to connect to others in the community throughout their adolescence. I really think we are negatively impacted by that, because we don’t get to relate and share our experiences with others as our straight counterparts do. I’m hoping that the community continues to grow and open up and connect with others on campus, but I haven’t seen any new developments. It’s honestly stagnant. The community at large here is very accepting.

How has attending Rowan helped you in finding an inclusive community?

Rowan, like many other institutions, helped me find an inclusive community by providing a space where I could find like-minded individuals. Whether it is in the classroom, at the student center, the library, or the theatre, usually I could find someone to speak to or learn something from. Rowan has also provided me with a wealth of opportunities to build smaller communities within through artistic endeavors, educational experiences, and club formulation. For instance, from my understanding I was the only puppeteer on campus with the exception of the puppetry workshop professor. Seeking to change that, I created RU Puppet Artists (RUPA), which allowed me to create the community I wanted to be a part of. Over a single school year, despite COVID-19, there are now several students that would proudly call themselves puppet artists that I know I can rely upon. 

Were there any faculty that you particularly enjoyed, inspired you and/or made you feel you had a safe space?

My biggest inspiration is the Department of Theatre & Dance’s Technical Director Tom Fusco. Not only is Tom an incredible professor, he has been an amazing friend and collaborator. He has been there to support myself and many other students throughout all of our endeavors. I know that whenever I need a hand or advice, I can call on him. That is not to say that he is the only professor who has supported me, especially when it comes to the theatre & dance department. There are several of them who I am proud to have worked with and am incredibly grateful for all the support and wisdom that they have imparted upon me. As I approach the end of my undergraduate studies, I can smile at all that I have learned from these incredible people and look forward to continuing my work with them in the larger South Jersey/Philadelphia community so that we can continue to inspire young artists trying to find their voice.

Is there anything you would want to see changed at Rowan in regards to LGBTQ+ life?​

I would like to see a large presence besides rainbow balloons at Pride month. There are drag competitions that happen, but only once a year. Maybe I’m wrong, because I’m not super connected to any of the organizations, but I would generally like to see more outreach and letting people know “Hey we’re here.” Other than me just being aware of the existence of these clubs, I see and hear nothing. That’s really unfortunate because there are a lot of people who could really use a little more messaging and letting them know that they’re there. There’s no connection, there’s no flyer up or anything that’s constantly up in their periphery to remind them that ‘Oh, there are people out there like me on campus who I can connect to and grow with.’ It would be really assuring if there was a general expansion of LGBTQ+ presence to let people know we are here.

Anything else you want to discuss?

​I think it’s really, incredibly important to find people in the community you look up to and can relate to and maybe reach out to. I’m a puppeteer, and the puppeteering community, like most professions, is dominated by straight, cis, white men, but there are queer puppeteers out there, and there are some truly amazing ones. While I haven’t had the privilege of getting to speak with them, just knowing that they exist and being able to see and relate to their work, and to know that they’re approaching it through that [LGBTQ+] lens is a really powerful thing. To know that there are these artists representing gay men in the puppeteering profession is really important to me. They are truly my biggest heroes.

I know for me, I hope I can connect with them so maybe one day I can be that hero where someone looks at my work and says he did it, I can do it, which is a beautiful thing. Find your idols, find your role models, and if you can, let them know that you’re here too. 

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Queer Voices: Business Major Ian McClellan

An exterior shot of Bunce Hall is illuminated in rainbow colors for Pride Month.

This interview was originally featured on the Queer Voices Instagram page @queer_voices. 

Biomedical Art and Visualization major Emerson Harman created the Queer Voices Project, which is working “to amplify LGBTQ+ student, faculty, and alumni voices at Rowan University through portraits and interviews.” You can also find more of their content here.

Name, pronouns, and identity?

My name is Ian McClellan, my pronouns are he/him/his, and I am gay.

What is your year in school and your major?
I am currently a junior here at Rowan University majoring in local Supply Chain Management and Logistics, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship.

Ian leaning against a bridge overlooking a lake.
When did you come out as LGBTQ+, and why then?

I officially came out when transitioning between high school and college. For me it was just an easier transition, because I didn’t have to keep up any sort of façade. Everyone who was going to be at my school wouldn’t know me, so it was an easier time to be open instead of trying to hide it.

Has being LGBTQ impacted or influenced your education?

For the most part, there isn’t a noticeable impact. My teachers have never quite cared, and most of them probably don’t know. I’m not super forthcoming about being gay, it’s more of a fun fact or piece of trivia that you figure out if you figure it out, so I guess there’s been no profound impact.

Has LGBTQ culture and acceptance changed throughout your time at Rowan?
I’d say the change is minor, but I noticed it through the LGBTQ clubs on campus. When I first started attending Rowan my [first] year, the LGBTQ clubs and organizations were more of a social gathering where you could go and meet other LGBTQ people in the community, but today it’s more focused on activism and social change. That has come around due to leadership changes in the clubs, so activism is a bit bigger on campus than it once was. Social interaction still occurs through the activism of those clubs, but it’s not quite what it was. The culture hasn’t changed too much, but just changed what the focus is about.

How has attending Rowan helped you in finding an inclusive community?

Rowan has allowed me the opportunity to meet other members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are of a similar age. This has allowed me to feel more comfortable and to physically see others thriving and believe that I can thrive myself.

Were there any faculty that you particularly enjoyed, inspired you and/or made you feel you had a safe space?

The residential learning professional team at Rowan made me feel more comfortable in my time as both a resident and a resident assistant. They not only encourage diverse perspectives but celebrate them. Everyone has something to bring to the table.

Is there anything you would want to see changed at Rowan in regards to LGBTQ+ life?

I know a lot of people at Rowan struggle at the moment with their identity. College, for a lot of people, is a time to get away from the pressures of home and feeling like you have to achieve certain things, so I know a lot of students have the opportunity to explore their sexuality. A lot of people are quiet or hushed about it, though, because they feel that there’s some kind of stigma or stereotype about experimenting with your sexuality, like it’s something you can be made fun of, especially if you’re a male. You seem to have to want to experiment, because if you experiment, people think you automatically are [LGBTQ] and there’s no going back, so a lot of people go on apps to explore sexuality and use fake names or don’t put up photos, so overall there’s a lot of insecurity about it, which could be worked to be decreased.

Anything else you want to discuss?

There’s a living-learning community in Holly Pointe Commons for LGBTQ+ people. I know that RLUH (Residential Learning and University Housing) is really pushing to create more learning communities to allow people to express their interests, so people who want to be involved in the LGBTQ community have a place where for the first time in college they can come out and meet people in the community. They get the opportunity to feel an aura of comfort, because other people in their community don’t judge them for who they are.

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#PROFPRIDE: Leah Boyle, RA for the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community

Leah smiles in front of Bunce Hall while wearing a gray Rowan shirt and glasses.

Today we speak with Leah Boyle, who graduated this May with a degree in Psychology. Leah comes from Haddonfield, NJ in Camden County and is a first-generation college student. She has been an on-campus resident all four years and worked as an RA (Resident Assistant) for the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community in Holly Pointe for the last two years.

What has it been like being an RA?

It’s been so good. I love everything about it. I’ve gotten so many opportunities through it. I am the RA for the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community. I make programs and oversee all of our students as they transition into Rowan. 

Is there a moment that stands out to you as particularly meaningful being the RA of this pod? 

Making programs [focused] on helping people introduce themselves and finding footing in a completely safe space for the first time has been the most impactful to me. Just having people refer friends to me if they have questions. Knowing that I myself am a resource has been my favorite thing about it. 

Do you get a lot of first years? 

Yes, it’s only first-years. I’m so happy I was able to do it. It’s been the happiest job I’ve had. It’s been so positive and a great environment.

Can you tell me more about the programming that you’ve offered? 

Because of Covid, it’s a little bit different. This semester I taught American Sign Language every month on Zoom. Last year I did Coming Out parties and LGBTQIA+ History Trivia Nights (showing the names and faces of people who are really important to our history). We have certain events for people who were celebrating their one-year anniversary since transitioning. It was so great, we had so much fun.

It’s a little different with Covid. I had a Diversity Movie Club, where everyone would watch the movie on their own time and then we would get together later on and discuss whether it was reflective of our experiences. It’s more flexible, but last year I had a lot more [spontaneous yet purposeful] events.

Leah puts a hand on her hip while standing under the Rowan arch.

What feedback have you gotten from residents in comparing this community to where they originally come from? 

I’ve had people tell me that this is the first time that they have had people refer to them by the name that they always wanted to be referred to by. [I’ve been told], “You’re the first person to ask me what my pronouns are and if I’m comfortable” or “I was nervous about my roommate but because I’m part of the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community, we’ve had the same experiences and I feel validated.” It’s so important that we have this space for people to meet other people. They all go off and join clubs together and lead together through Rowan. Having people show up to events that don’t even live in my pod and knowing more people around campus is so great. This has been great too. If people are happy within the community, it will continue to grow and grow. 

When you talk about your job with people who are not directly part of the campus community, such as parents or relatives, do they embrace it or do you find yourself having to explain its importance? 

One of my favorite things about coming to college has been that everyone comes from a different understanding of the community. It’s a bit confusing for people who are older than me or don’t really understand [why] I work specifically with this community. [It] also means that sometimes my job is more difficult than the people who live in neighboring pods because it comes with more difficult conversations. Sometimes I have to explain that, “Yeah, I have fun programs but sometimes it can be really intense.” 

It’s a bit different from a typical resident assistant but a lot of times my friends would always want to show up to these events, meet people, and get people involved. I think it’s important to talk about it and learning communities at Rowan are so important. They’re really, really successful. I hope that the more we talk about it, maybe we could have learning communities in one or two other buildings. I like to spread the good word and let people know it’s a really great space.

Leah and Kevin stand under the arch together.

Have you ever encountered any hate towards you as being the RA or towards people who live in your pod?

I think with having a diverse community living in a space, people can make the decision to come through and be judgmental or defacing property. In those situations, we have a lot of things in place to make sure that students are feeling supported. It’s not very common. I’ve been in this position for two years and very few times have I had to sit down with someone and say “Let’s talk about why you’ve done this thing.” 

It doesn’t really happen that often. A lot of the time we get people who didn’t sign up for it but they’re really just happy at the end of the experience because they were able to learn. I’ve had a lot of people grow and learn more. It helps not only our community but the people around us. Yes, we’ve had situations where people have not been accepting, but Rowan has a very strict policy for any of that behavior. It’s always been taken care of. 

For people coming into the university, do they have to share who they are to be able to qualify for this pod in terms of identifiers? 

We don’t want anyone to feel like they have to out themselves to their family or friends when they’re coming to Rowan. So, what they can do is when they sign up for housing there will be boxes of all of our learning communities. You can select that you want to be with first-gen people or social justice people. Then you can have information sent to your personal email about the LGBTQIA+ community and find out if you were able to be placed. 

I don’t get a list of [how] people identify. You can join if you’d like to and it’s not shared with a lot of different people. So I go into my job [thinking] that maybe this person signed up or maybe they didn’t. It’s more of an educational experience. A lot of people will come in letting me know that they’re so excited and share their past experiences. This year is different because we have different numbers than usual. I have people who don’t identify as LGBTQIA+. They have the complete same housing experience as everybody else. They just get more resources. It’s a win-win.

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

My Favorite Class: Gender, Sexuality, and Literature

Field of flowers near Wilson hall.

Today we feature recent graduate Amanda Carlin. Amanda earned her degree in English with a minor in Psychology and is from Bridgewater, NJ (Somerset County) where she transferred from Raritan Valley Community College. Amanda’s favorite class is Gender, Sexuality, and Literature in the English department, which was taught by Dr. Yvonne Hammond. Tell us a […]

English Majors Share What They are Reading over Winter Break

Snowy scene on campus.

Rowan students and English majors from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences suggest some good reads for Winter Break.

Senior Superia Ryan from Pittsgrove, NJ (Salem County) recommends “Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin. She thinks the book “shares a powerful story that I believe others should hear.” To read, Superia enjoys sitting and reading in Starbucks with a cup of coffee.

Superia Ryan pictured outside.

Senior Fatima Khalid from Brooklyn, NY recommends “For One More Day” by Mitch Albom because it is one of the only books to make her actually cry! Fatima’s spot to read is her room with a candle lit. 

Selfi of Fatima Khalid.

Junior Brianna Benfield from Gloucester County, NJ recommends “A Darker Shade of Magic” by VE Schwab. Brianna describes the book as a “fantastic new adult/adult fantasy novel with a well-developed new world and magic system and ample LGBTQIA+ representation. This is the first book of a trilogy that keeps you hooked until the very end!” Brianna’s favorite way to read is in bed with headphones in. 

Brianna Benfield sits on a stone bench outside.

Senior Chris Finnegan (seen below, left) from Wyckoff, NJ (Bergen County) recommends “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury because of its prescience and relevance in regards to today’s digital culture. To read, Chris needs natural lighting and a hot drink! 

Chris Finnegan and friend on campus.

Senior Dominique DiGiacomo from Atco, NJ (Camden County) recommends “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami. Dominique has begun reading the book in Japanese! Dominique thinks the book is super interesting and that there are translated versions of it as well! To read, Dominique gets in a quiet area and wears her favorite loungewear.

Dominique in front of bridge

Junior Hannah Roselli from Bordentown, NJ (Burlington County), recommends “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. Hannah loves Little Women. She explains: “While it is a timeless classic, it also brings the reader into a time before the world went crazy.  It is a sweet and endearing novel with an amazing meaning. It may seem to be too old for our generation to read, but when they say that this book is a timeless classic, they mean it.” Hannah enjoys reading while snuggled up with a cup of tea in the evening and my dog and fiancé by my side.

Selfi of Hannah Roselli.

Sophomore Sam Grasso from Sicklerville in Camden County, NJ recommends “Inkheart” by Cornelia Funke. “If you really want to get lost in a fantasy world where characters from your favorite books can plop into the real world, this is the perfect book to dive into,” she says. To read, Sam tends to wait until she’s alone, usually at night, curled up on the couch with her puppies right beside her. 

Samantha Grasso

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Story by:
Loredonna Fiore, junior public relations and advertising major


Beyond the Classroom: Biomedical Art and Visualization Major Emerson Harman on Starting Queer Voices Project

Emerson wears a rainbow mask outside.

Today’s “Beyond the Classroom” features Emerson Harman, a freshman who has already joined numerous on-campus organizations. They also launched the “Queer Voices” Project, aimed at spreading awareness and showing the presence of the LGBTQIA+ community at Rowan.

Emerson poses outside on campus.

Freshman Wisconsin native Emerson Harman has not hesitated to get involved on campus in this first couple of months of the semester. They’ve already joined Rowan’s Wind Ensemble, the Biology Club, the Biomedical Art and Visualization club and PRISM. Being part of all these organizations already is a huge head start for a freshman, and the crazy part is that none of these is even Emerson’s most impressive accomplishment at Rowan so far. 

Emerson started “Queer Voices,” which involves interviewing (and photographing) Rowan faculty and students who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and uploading the content to the Queer Voices website. Emerson meets with students, faculty and alumni to ask various questions relating to Rowan’s LGBTQIA+ community and other related topics. 

Emerson stands outside, looks to the side on campus.

Emerson says the “whole goal of [the project] is to raise awareness and presence of the LGBT community on campus.” 

Emerson is hoping that word of mouth will help grow Queer Voices into something bigger. It is only November, and they already have content on the website from seven faculty members, nine students and two alumni. 

“It started off with just faculty … and then it grew, and other students heard about it and were like, ‘Hey, can I get involved too?’” Emerson explains.

With the current state of the pandemic and social distancing still being enforced, it is not an easy time to make new friends in a new place. When Emerson was asked about how difficult this is, they did not act like it was a huge issue. 

“I think there has been a lot of good programming from the university itself for new freshmen. Even though most things are virtual, I’ve still been able to meet a lot of people both in my dorm and in classes,” Emerson says.

Emerson wears a mask on campus.

Emerson decided to go to Rowan all the way from Wisconsin because of their major. Emerson is a Biomedical Art and Visualization major, which is only offered at three schools in the country, Rowan being one of them. It is likely that the atmosphere and culture in Glassboro is much different than that of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, but Emerson has seemingly adjusted quickly. 

“It feels like a small university but at the same time it’s obviously not. It’s really close to a lot of major cities too which is nice,” Emerson says.

Click here to visit Queer Voices. 

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Story by:
Luke Garcia, junior music industry major

Photography by:
Quintin Stinney, sophomore radio/TV/film major

Beyond the Classroom: Generation Action’s Rowan Chapter President, Alexis Thompson

Lex stands outside on campus.

Today we feature Alexis Thompson, who goes by Lex, from Lawnside, NJ (Camden County). They are a senior, first-generation college student and Psychology major with a minor in Africana Studies and a focus on reproductive justice. Lex transferred to Rowan from Hampton University in Spring of 2018. Lex tells us about Generation Action, what their […]

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Studio Art Major Christine Stewart

Christine standing outside in front of trees in a blue shirt.

Today we welcome Christine Stewart, a transfer student from Cumberland County College. They are a junior majoring in Studio Art with a specialization in Graphic Design from Pennsauken, NJ (Camden County). They are also involved in Prism, Queer People of Color (QPOC), and Women of Westby. What wakes you up in the morning? Being able […]

10 Inclusive Clubs at Rowan University

Looking for a safe space or ways to connect with others on campus? Here are some clubs and organizations available at Rowan to check out!

Students outside the Chamberlain Student Center signing up for clubs and organizations at club tables.

1. Queer People of Color

Queer People of Color (or QPOC) is a “multi-cultural, LGBTQ+ social group that works to promote well-being, inclusion and diversity to students of all backgrounds,” according to its website.

The club “[aims] to build community and relationships, as well as educate each other about cultural and LGBTQ+ issues. Allies of all walks of life welcome and inclusive to all races, sexual orientations, gender identities, etc.”

To learn more about QPOC and its president, Jahnaya Peyton, watch this video produced by Rowan Blog. 

Queer People of Color (QPOC)

2.  Women in Business

According to their website, the Women in Business Club is “a network of professionals committed to empowering, supporting, and guiding the men, and especially women, of Rowan University to achieve success in their future business endeavors.

“With the understanding that women face unique challenges, we strive to inspire learning and communication. Our inclusive programs are dedicated to personal and professional growth through discussions, speakers, and conferences.”

3.  Men of Color Alliance

The Men of Color Alliance (MOCA) is a club that aims “to create a safe place,” according to its site. 

As an organization we strive to help educate and change the negative stereotypes placed upon minority men,” says MOCA Director of Outreach Chair Naledge Brown.  

“We as an organization give men an outlet to be themselves as well as help provide them tools to function at a high level in today’s world. We also help educate young minority boys on higher education, trade schools, and credit. While also providing them with a ‘big brother,’ they can just talk about anything with (life, sports, etc.),” adds Naledge.

To learn more about MOCA, watch this video produced by Rowan Blog. 

Rowan's Men of Color Alliance (MOCA)

4.  True Colors at Rowan University

As stated by their site, True Colors is a safer space organization recognized by the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution. They welcome any and all students from the LGBTQIAAPPD community and its allies. They promote self-care, self-acceptance, and self-expression while providing a safe space for Rowan’s LGBTQ+ community to hang out, discuss issues and meet other community members and allies. 

5.  Unified Sports ClubUnified Sports club walking on the soccer field.

According to its Campus Labs page, Rowan United Sports is “where Rowan students (Unified Partners) and Special Olympics athletes come together to play on the same team for soccer in the fall and basketball in the spring.

“The goal of the Rowan Unified Sports Club is to promote friendship and inclusion through sports while still keeping a competitive atmosphere.”

The club offers opportunities to play, coach or volunteer. They “encourage all no matter what walk of life or athletic ability to join us in our Unified family.”

In 2018, ESPN visited Rowan to nationally recognize the Unified Sports Club; watch this special event here

6. Phi Sigma Pi

Phi Sigma Pi is a national, gender-inclusive fraternity dedicated to promoting life-long learning, cultivating lasting relationships and offering various leadership opportunities through our core values of Scholarship, Leadership, Fellowship, and Service,” says Eta Mu Chapter President Christina Gentile.

“It is our organization’s mission and personal motto to ‘Improve Humanity with Honor.’ We are an opportunity to meet a diverse group of students on Rowan’s campus that you may not meet otherwise, gain life-long friendships and make memories that you will happily remember long past graduation,” adds Christina.

“We are very passionate about staying involved on campus, fundraising for a variety of organizations, and supporting current events such as our philanthropies, Habitat for Humanity and HOBY, CHOP, the Black Lives Matter movement, and The SHOP on Rowan’s campus.”

Rowan's Phi Sigma Pi fraternity

7.  United Latinos Association

ULA, according to its page, “[is] all about providing a space for people of different cultural backgrounds to celebrate their culture while learning about others. They also work to educate others about issues that the Latino community faces.”

8. South Asian Students Association

A newer organization on campus, the South Asian Students Association (SASA) aims to” foster a community” among South Asian students. 

SASA plans to host networking opportunities, formals and service events all centered around “[having] fun while celebrating and spreading our culture.” The organization’s goal is to “be an inclusive community to anyone interested in or a part of South Asian culture.”

9. Prism

Prism is Rowan’s LGBTQ+ activism organization,” says Prism President Ella Emmer.

“In addition to educating, advocating, and supporting our members, we also provide a safe space for our members to hang out and have fun. Our overarching goal is to create a reality of chosen family between our community, while creating change at the same time,” adds Ella. 

To learn more about Ella and Prism, watch this video produced by Rowan Blog. 

Rowan's Prism club

10. American Sign Language Club

According to its site, the Rowan ASL Club is a unique, fun and interesting club to get involved with! The club “[focuses] on learning some ASL, learning about Deaf culture, helping in the Deaf community, and having a blast doing all of the above!” You do not need prior knowledge of or experience with ASL to join. 

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

#PROFspective: Junior Physics Major Reinaldo Vázquez Jr.

Today we feature Reinaldo Vázquez Jr., a junior Physics major and Mathematics minor from Paulsboro, NJ (Gloucester County) who has an off-campus rental. 

What clubs are you a part of on campus? I am the Vice President/Treasurer of Queer People of Color (QPOC).

Reinaldo with the Queer People of Color club.Tell us about one club, organization, or group of friends that make you feel like Rowan is home. Queer People of Color, or QPOC, is a multicultural and LGBTQ+ support group on campus. I spent the last two semesters as Treasurer and Vice President with the goal of making QPOC a diverse community free of ignorance and judgment. I know every meeting that all of our members are going to feel safe expressing themselves and speaking what’s on their minds.

Could you share a moment you’ve experienced in which you have felt that Rowan is a welcoming environment for you? When I came to Rowan almost two years ago, I was with a different major. I worked in the department, but it wasn’t a good fit for me. I felt disconnected and isolated, and I carried that feeling with me for my entire first semester anytime I entered the building. It wasn’t until I met my best friend, partner, and the President-to-be of QPOC, Jahnaya, at the start of the spring semester that I started to feel welcome at Rowan. Naya helped create an environment where I could feel comfortable, and proud, of who I am and does the same for everyone she meets.

Reinaldo at a Queer People of Color event.
Jahnaya and Reinaldo hosting a bake sale table for QPOC at the Student Center

What’s your favorite thing about your typical Monday at Rowan? QPOC meetings were always the best way to unwind at the end of a long day. Since the meetings were on my “off day,” I would do homework all day and then spend a couple of hours catching up with everyone else.

Reinaldo in nature.What is one thing about Rowan that was a happy surprise for you? As a native of South Jersey, I had the opportunity to see Rowan University as it grew over the years. I can remember when the Nexus Apartments were home to Glassboro residents and Holly Pointe Commons and Rowan Boulevard were still just expansion plans for a small-town college. I came to Rowan primarily out of convenience but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is still growing every year, both in students and new projects like the one happening right now on 322. And despite this rapid growth, Rowan has managed to keep students closely engaged with campus life.

Describe for us an experience you’ve shared with a professor or staff member in which you felt like they truly cared about your wellbeing. My Physics professor Dr. Carol Guess is hands-down my favorite professor thus far. Whenever I needed help, whether it was for her class or just guidance during a difficult time, her office door was open. When I wanted to change my major from Engineering, it was thanks to her help in class that I knew Physics would be a better fit for me, and it was thanks to her guidance outside of class that I was able to make the change.

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, freshman communication studies and public relations double major

20 Minute Radius: Philadelphia Pride

The front of Bunce Hall being lit up at night with rainbow colored lights

50 years ago in June 1969, a clash between gay rights activists and the police of New York City emerged outside a local gay bar known as Stonewall Inn; later becoming known as the Stonewall Riots. During the early hours of Saturday, June 28, nine police officers entered the Stonewall Man dressed in a rainbow outfit jumping mid-air trowing a rainbow flag upInn – ending with multiple people being ‘roughed up’ and arrested. For the next several days, local gay right supporters rallied against the harassment and social injustice. Acting as a catalyst, the riots sparked the LGBTQIA+ rights movement.

Today, thousands of parades occur around the world with millions of supporters showing their PRIDE. It has become a gathering and a celebration of differences to honor the years of struggle and discrimination that has been endured, and Philadelphia’s parade is no exception. Starting in the heart of Philadelphia’s “Gayborhood” – a four square-block radius located in Center City where multiple LGBTQIA+ friendly businesses reside – the parade follows a 1.5 mile route to Penn’s Landing Great Plaza where an all-day festival takes place.

A drag queen dressed in a rainbow leotard and flowers throughout her hair
A drag queen adorning one of the parade floats.

As a spectator of the parade you can expect to witness an assortment of color and entertainment with floats, flag twirlers, local companies showing their support, marching bands, participants dressed in drag (individuals wearing clothing more commonly worn by the opposite sex), and thousands of people excitedly cheering. Just by being present you can feel the elation and pride the City of Brother Love gives to this community. Once at Penn’s A young man pouring maple syrup over french toast with a bitmoji in the bottom right cornerLanding Great Plaza, you are able to enter for a nominal fee of $15, giving you access to food and drink vendors, musical entertainment, and plenty of room to celebrate.

Being that Philadelphia is full of amazing restaurants that support the LGBTQIA+ community, you may choose to dine prior to heading over to Penn’s Landing. Eating at places such as Amada, Royal Boucherie, Uzu Sushi Bar, and many more just located between Market and Chestnut St. Philadelphia is a historic city with an abundance of food, love, and excitement – what else could you need. And with transportation from Glassboro to Philadelphia accessible from Rowan’s campus, what are you waiting for?

Like what you see? Come visit us!


Story and photography by: new graduate Alexander Belli, B.A. in public relations and advertising

#PROFspective: Psychology and Sociology Major Jeraca Marsh

Jereca sitting on Rowan University brick sign outside of Holly Pointe

Today, we speak with Jeraca Marsh, a senior psychology and sociology major from Burlington City (Burlington County), NJ, who resides on campus in Holly Pointe Commons. Jeraca will share her #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University student and how she’s getting the most out of her college experience as a […]

#PROFspective: Communications Studies Major
Hamish James Silva

students in True Color club meeting

Today we speak with Hamish James Silva, a junior communications studies major from Hammonton, Atlantic County, who lives off campus with friends. He will share his #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University student and how he’s getting the most out of his college experience as a Rowan Prof.  Name: Hamish James Silva Major: […]