First Pride events seen as ‘huge’ step toward inclusion

Detroit Mercy’s first Pride Night celebrations are seen as a “huge” step toward inclusion by the university’s LGBTQ+ community and are likely to expand in the future, according to organizers.

The athletic department earlier this month hosted the events at both a men’s and women’s basketball game to recognize and celebrate
the LGBTQ+ community. Officials welcomed the university’s LGBTQ+ club, Detroit Mercy Pride, as well as the Ruth Ellis Center, a social services agency that helps homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ youth, to take part in the events.

The groups dedicated the night to being an informational resource for attendees, providing information on events and other opportunities for support or interaction. The university also donated hundreds of dollars to the Ruth Ellis Center from ticket proceeds and donations.

Adriana Marroquin, founder and president of Detroit Mercy Pride, sees this as a huge step in the right direction for Detroit Mercy athletics and the representation of the LGBTQ+ community on campus.

“To see our club represented at an athletic event was huge for us,” Marroquin said. “A lot of the time LGBTQ+ matters and people go unseen or ignored in the athletic set- ting. We are so excited to be breaking that cycle at our university.”

Paige Zmudczynski, an assistant business and ticket manager in the athletic department, took the lead in organizing the events here and said she was inspired to do so after seeing various professional teams and other colleges host similar celebrations. She said she the university is likely to continue them in the future.

“Ideas are already planned for next year and we hope to make it bigger and better in the seasons to come,” Zmudczynski said.

Athletic Director Robert Vowels sees Pride Night celebrations as a moment to promote inclusion across Detroit Mercy’s campus.

“Diversity and inclusion are a big part of what we do and what we believe in and we must consciously embrace diversity,” he said. “Pride Night is a good example of the diversity we embrace that gives our lives richness, fairness and equality. Celebrating Pride Night is important because it is a cognitive opening and a driving force for social development and growth for everyone.”

Fans even got to take a little piece of the event home with them.

A free lapel pin featuring the Titan logo on a rainbow Pride flag was distributed throughout the games for all to take.

This new, annual celebration could be a great way to bring in some new fans while also spreading some important details about LGBTQ+ resources on campus.

“It felt amazing to be able to support our teams while also being able to spread information and let students who may have not heard of us know that we are here for them,” Marroquin said.