Celebrate Pride 2019 with the School of Social Work & Columbia

June 27 @ 10:10 pm
By Communications Office

As Pride Month draws to a close, the School of Social Work joins with Columbia in celebrating our LGBTQIA+ community.

In a statement on Pride 2019 and Stonewall 50, Interim Dean Irv Garfinkel called on members of the School of Social Work community to “take pride in the role we social workers have played and continue to play in advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights.”

READ: Dean’s Statement on Pride and Stonewall 50 (6.26.19 news article)

As Garfinkel notes, many members of our community may already be planning to join one or more celebratory events, including the two major Pride marches taking place in the city on June 30. To supplement that experience, we offer this list of five signs of PRIDE in action at the School of Social Work and/or the larger Columbia University community.

1) Columbia’s “Incredible Queer Community”

As chair of the School of Social Work’s Queer Caucus, recent graduate Kate Vandeveld (MSW’19) got to know people in that space better—including herself.

“Despite all of the challenges, there is an incredible queer community here,” Vandeveld said in the above interview with Columbia University’s Communications team. “When you look for these communities of people who support each other and want to help each other, lift each other up, you can find them.”

2) #PRIDE in the Research


When asked how #PRIDE comes into his research on HIV interventions, Professor Elwin Wu responds:

“Rather than a culture of shame and hiding, where HIV flourishes unabated, a culture of celebration and PRIDE allows open dialogue and therefore linkages to the preventative tools and treatments needed in the community.”

He is referring specifically to an intervention study he is running in Kazakhstan, one of nine countries in the world that saw a greater than 25% increase in HIV incidence in the first decade of this century. The intervention is designed to engage stigmatized communities through social networks, in particular men who have sex with men (MSM). It builds on Wu’s previous work designing a couples-based intervention to help prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Black men in longer-term, same-sex relationships in New York City (later extended to Spanish-speaking Latino MSM and their same-sex partners).

Two other members of the Kazakhstan project offer reflections as well.

READ: #PRIDE in the Work: A CSSW Research Team reflects on #PRIDEMonth (6.28.2018 news article)

3) Pride of Place at Columbia School of Social Work

Social work PhD candidate Yong Gun “YG” Lee (MSW’16) is one of many global scholars who come to Columbia to learn best practices with aspirations for adapting them to international settings. In the above video interview with CSSW Communications, he talks about his personal journey from having worked in the hospitality industry in Korea to doing doctoral research at Columbia, with a focus on interventions for LGBTQIA+ populations.

“That little voice in my head kept saying … go for what you’re passionate about, and that has always been working with the LGBTQ population,” he says. He goes on: “I do see myself adapting and implementing some of the evidence-based interventions in areas where they don’t exist. Particularly in Asia, where some of these interventions are lagging.”

4) Show of Pride: Lavender Graduation


For the past three years, the Queer Caucus at the School of Social Work has been hosting an affiliate Lavender Graduation Ceremony.

Shijuade Kadree, a lawyer who works at New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center and the keynote speaker at the very first event, offers a few “highlights” from the last two hundred or so years pertaining to LGBTQ civil rights, on the grounds that “to know where we are going, we must know where we have come from.”

READ: Caucus Graduation Ceremony Speakers Inspire Class of 2017 – Lavender Graduation (transcript)

“Ten years ago, I couldn’t fathom giving a speech at a Lavender graduation,” says this year’s keynote, beloved professor Desmond Patton. He goes on to discuss his experiences with intersectionality and coming out.

READ: Caucus Graduation Ceremony Speakers Inspire Class of 2019 – Lavender Graduation (transcript)

5) Columbia’s Own Pride Events


To honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and celebrate Columbia’s deep roots in the gay civil rights movement, Low Library will be lit in rainbow colors on #Pride weekend. The lighting ceremony will take place Saturday, June 29, at 7:00 pm.

READ: Low Library Rainbow Lighting for World Pride (event)

As a final note, a Columbian presence is planned at the 2019 NYC Pride March, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, in section 10 order 2.

READ: Stonewall 50 March with Columbia Pride (Eventbrite)


  • For more information about Pride Month activities at Columbia University, please visit Pride of Lions 2019.
  • Links to resources that support LGBTQ students on campus can be found here.