A group of people standing in front of a banner

Members of NJMS LGBTQ+ community celebrate the Pride month with their supporters

This year in early June, the NJMS once again embraced the Pride Month, celebrating the inclusivity, acceptance and living openly. On Friday, June 2, the NJMS LGBTQ+ community and allies came together for a reception, rising the Pride flag. Dean Robert Johnson, MD, delivered a speech fostering and celebrating diversity and inclusion, and the two co-founders of OUT@NJMS club, Casey Urban and Alea Charles spoke as well.

“The main goal for the event in general was to bring the LGBTQ+ community and allies all together, celebrate our identities, and really recommit ourselves to helping and supporting one another, and the community's future,” said Casey Urban, who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and just finished their first year at NJMS.” The event reminded the attendees about the three important points, such as fostering an inclusive environment, standing up against hate, and advocating for change when possible.

Added to this year’s Pride event was an art gallery, inspired by the challenges LGBTQ+ members often face. Provided by Ashley Grosso, Ph.D., and Jacqueline Thaw the photographs were created by the members of the LGBTQ+ community of the Newark area, depicting their experiences and struggles. Another new developing this year was a collaboration with Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine within the Department of Pediatrics, which provided some resources for the event.

Urban noted that the NJMS LGBTQ+ community had also launched a new mentoring program with the University Hospital this past year. As part of the program, the LGBTQ+ students are paired up with the residents and faculty into the so-called “families.” That structure provides support for students in terms of navigating their identities as well as during challenging moments, Urban explained. “By creating the mentorship program, we were really able to increase the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within the hospital system and administration.”

Urban noted that NJMS LGBTQ+ community is grateful for the support they have on campus. “We could not have done the Pride event without the administration's help,” Urban added. “They have been incredibly supportive and helpful and setting everything up.” The Office of Student Affairs have provided the giveaways in a form of rainbow bracelets, pins, pride flags and necklaces. “From a student's perspective I definitely say that there is a strong sense of community here at NJMS,” Urban added. Equally exciting was to see many allies join the event. “We really want to incorporate them in the community, and we are always very, very grateful for their help and support.”