On June 26, students, faculty and staff from across The University of Tulsa participated in the Tulsa Pride Parade. This was the first time an official TU contingent had marched in this annual commemoration and celebration of LGBTQ+ rights.
An athletic rainbow
TU’s participation in this year’s Pride Parade was spearheaded by TU Athletics’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, which was conceived by Schnea Nealy, the associate athletic director for student-athlete development. Formed in summer 2020, Athletics’ DEI committee promotes awareness of social issues, including voter registration, racial inequity and injustice and gender and sexuality. The DEI committee also acts as a safe space for TU athletes.
For this year’s Tulsa Pride Parade, Athletics’ DEI committee drew on the talents of Audrey Brown, the creative director for University of Tulsa Athletics. Brown’s rainbow-colored Tulsa logo was prominently featured on the T-shirts the committee sold in advance of the parade as a fundraiser (the brainchild of Brown and Jeremy Panakos) for the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in downtown Tulsa.
Becky Coleman, a senior member of TU’s rowing team, attended the parade with other student-athletes. “I really enjoyed walking in the Tulsa Pride Parade, especially representing TU,” Coleman commented. “It felt great to see the smiles on everyone’s faces as we walked our banner through downtown Tulsa. Having student-athletes show up to support the cause embodies what we are as an athletic department: supportive, inclusive and welcoming. This made me proud to be a part of the university.”
Affirmation, representation, dedication
One of the other participants in this year’s parade was Amanda Chastang (MA ’18), diversity officer with TU’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “In the past, various TU representatives have participated in the Tulsa Pride Parade individually, but this past Saturday was the first time that TU has collectively participated in the event,” noted Chastang. “The high energy of the crowd and the positive affirmations that were being exchanged were contagious. The community was excited to see TU participate as a collective and I look forward to our continued participation as an annual event.”
Associate Professor of Anthropology Danielle Macdonald, who is also the president of the board of directors at the Little Blue House, likewise marched with TU. “The Little Blue House was thrilled to march with TU in this year’s Pride Parade,” Macdonald said. “Coming together to show our support for our LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff at TU highlights our diverse and supportive community. Visibility and representation matters, and I hope that this is the first of many years that TU marches in the Tulsa Pride Parade.”
Kelsey Trapp, the incoming president of Pride at TU, similarly remarked, “I am excited to see the school’s participation in the parade, and I believe they are trying to demonstrate their commitment to diversity. I hope we continue to see dedication to not only the members of the queer community, but to every underrepresented community.”
Learn more about TU’s efforts to foster diversity, equity and inclusion here.