June 1 marked the first day of Pride Month, a historically celebrated 30 days specially dedicated to LQBTQ+ members and allies. June 4 marked a monumental day for not only the queer community but the entire population of Staples, when it celebrated its very first Pride Day as a school. Many students and faculty celebrated with rainbow clothing and adoration of the numerous anonymous art pieces displayed in the hallway, submitted by willing students who snatched the opportunity to depict what pride means to them.
Westport Pride, a club populated by Staples students and other members of the Westport community who are passionate about raising awareness for the LGBTQ+ community, hosted a fundraising table in front of the cafeteria during all four lunch waves on Friday. All proceeds went towards charities helping the LGBTQ+ community. (Pictured left to right: Westport Pride members Harry Almansi '21, Julia Mellin '21, Lily Caplan '22, Kayla Iannetta)
"[Pride] means being able to be visible and not afraid to be who you are," Kayla Iannetta, science teacher, Westport Pride leader and member of the LGBTQ+ community said. "It means being your authentic self. It means fighting for equality and recognizing the privilege we have in this country as queer people and fighting for people in other spaces that still need fighting for. There's still populations in this country that still need fighting for in the LGBTQ+ community."
The art show, put together voluntarily by the art department at Staples, inspired creativity among students and fostered an environment of safety and anonymity. Students' identity was kept anonymous not only as a way to protect their potentially unexpressed identity, but also as a means of representing the societally forced inability to express one's true self in a time when the civil rights movement for gay people still has a long way to go. "[Pride] means that I can openly celebrate myself and I don't have to worry about not being accepted," Julia Mellin '21, Westport Pride member, said. "I can just keep being me."
Staples is the first school in Connecticut to hold a school-run Pride Day, a monumental and potentially consequential decision. "I'm really excited because this is the first pride day within a school in Connecticut," Mellin said, "so that's a really big deal. We're starting something new and [...] I hope that other schools can feel inspired by us and make their own communities more welcoming." Pictured above are member of the guidance department, who similarly to several other faculty departments within Staples, celebrated Pride Day with matching t-shirts.
"As a pride ally, pride means that you can be yourself without worrying about what other people think," Harry Almansi '21, Westport Pride volunteer, said. "Especially this month because it's pride month, people shouldn't have to worry about negativity."
"To me, [pride] just means I can openly celebrate who I am with no judgement, and I can be proud of who I am," Gabby Lampugnale '21, Westport Pride member, said "I'm recently just out, and I had always felt the need to hide myself, so I feel like this year since there's so much change, this year I can change myself for the better, so doing this really means a lot."
All photos by Karina Murray '22