Pride Awards Event Honors Service to LGBT Life

The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Life hosted its annual Pride Awards on Saturday, recognizing Emory students and faculty who have worked to address issues affecting the LGBT community on campus.

This year’s award ceremony celebrated Emory’s progress during the last 20 years in “further[ing] the equality of LBGT students, faculty and staff,” according to the assistant director of the Office of LBGT Life Danielle Steele. According to its website, the Office of LGBT Life began giving out these awards annually after a March 2, 1992 protest during which students expressed dissatisfaction with how the administration handled complaints filed by two gay freshmen who alleged that they had been harassed in their residence hall.

Due to the protest, the administration appointed a full-time professional director to head the Office of LGBT Life, Sara Chestnut, who was instrumental in changing Emory’s Equal Opportunity Policy to include sexual orientation as a protected category.

Emory Pride co-presidents, College junior Brianne Rivera and College senior Kovonn Tanner, presented College sophomore Madeline Melnick with the Pride Member of the Year Award. Melnick, according to Rivera, received the award due to her “[willingness] to put herself out there and take the risk to be herself and not be willing to apologize for her opinions.”
The ceremony also honored the three winners of the Studies in Sexualities Essay Contest — an annual competition where graduate and undergraduate students submit essays on any topic pertaining to LBGT issues or queer studies.

According to Film and Media Studies Librarian James Steffen, who also serves as the subject liaison for the interdisciplinary studies program as well as theater, dance and LBGT studies, the award-winners received recognition due to the quality of their essays and research.

College junior Perrinh Savang received an award for his essay “Working Towards Progress: An Announcement to the Queer Community and the Effectiveness of LBGT-Related NGOs in Mongolia.” Graduate anthropology student Dredge Byung’chu Kang received “best mention” for his essay, while Emory School of Medicine student Joseph Turner received honorary mention.

Co-chairs for the President’s Commission on Sexuality, Gender Diversity and Queer Equality, Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Kristin Dunkle and Media Relations Director for the Michael C. Carlos Museum Priyanka Sinha, awarded Danny Ingram (‘80OX, ‘82C), the national president of American Veterans for Equal Rights, with the Chestnut LGBT Person of the Year Award for his activism regarding LGBT rights. Ingram served in the military before he was discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy as a result of his sexual orientation.

The Recognition of Courageous Leadership Award went to Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life John Ford. Michael Shutt, director of the Office of LGBT Life, mentioned that Ford dressed in drag for the Emory Pride Drag Show last year, adding that “no other vice president in the country” would have done so.

In addition, College sophomore Dohyun Ahn received the Fierce Leadership Award and the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Leadership Award. Ahn — who serves on the President’s Commission on Sexuality, Gender Diversity and Queer Equality — helped to found Queer and Asian, a group under Emory Pride that caters to Asian LGBT students.

Ahn commented that he became involved with improving the quality of life for the LGBT community at Emory due to a “[realization] that it really does affect people’s lives in really positive ways,” adding that he felt “what [he is] doing is the right thing.”

Additional awards were given to Interim Director of the Office of Student Leadership and Service Matt Garrett, who received the Outstanding Trans Advocate Award. The award honors an individual that has made meaningful contributions to Emory’s transgender, gender-variant, transsexual, genderqueer and gender-questioning people during the year.

Lilly Correa (‘73C) received the Outstanding Alumna of the Year Award, which honors an Emory alum who has made meaningful contributions to LGBT life. Executive Director of Emory Student Health and Counseling Michael Huey garnered the Outstanding Ally award, which honors contributions made by an individual, department or organization that resulted in an inclusive and respectful climate for the LGBT community. Assistant Chaplain and Program Associate for the Office of Religious Life Saul Burleson received the Keeping the Faith Award. The award honors an individual for their contributions in creating a welcoming campus environment for queer people of faith.

More than 20 Change Agents — who, according to Steele, is anyone in the Emory community who has enacted some positive change for the LGBT community — also received awards.

— Contact Daniela Viteri.

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