Powerful Pride events: How universities around the world show up for the LGBTQ+ community

pride events
Pride Month happens from June 1 to June 30 to celebrate the LGBTQ community and to honour the Stonewall Uprising. Source: AFP

When June rolls around, the rainbow flags and motifs become a common sight around certain parts of the world.

It signals the arrival of Pride Month, an annual month-long celebration of pride events during which millions worldwide come together to celebrate and commemorate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) persons or the community. 

The origins of Pride Month

On June 28, 1969, the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, popular among LGBTQ+  individuals.

The police aggressively dragged patrons and employees out of the bar, causing a backlash. This confrontation escalated, starting a six-day protest and riot known as the Stonewall Uprising. 

A year later, in tribute to the riot, the first Gay Pride Parade took place in the streets of Manhattan. Thousands marched 51 blocks from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Marches also occurred in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco that June. 

Pride is now celebrated worldwide and continues to grow. According to Outright International, 101 countries celebrated Pride Month and other LGBTQ+ events in 2023, and over 60 countries held Pride events in more than one city. 

  • In Canada, Ottawa and Vancouver hosted their first Pride parade in 1971, and by 1973, Pride events were held in several Canadian cities.
  • The UK celebrated Pride on July 1, 1972, in London.
  • The first Australian gay and lesbian Mardi Gras parade was hosted in Sydney in June 1978. 

However, not all Pride events and celebrations are in June. Denmark celebrates Pride Month in August, Taiwan celebrates Pride in October, and Germany celebrates Pride in the second half of July each year. 

How universities are making an effort to participate in Pride Month

Universities worldwide are now celebrating Pride Month, proudly commemorating their LGBTQ+ communities and creating safe spaces for inclusivity and support. LGBTQ+ organisations within universities host a variety of Pride events, including parades, talks, festivals, and workshops. 

However, like it is with certain countries, not all universities celebrate Pride Month in June.

US universities, like the University of Michigan and the University of North Dakota, celebrate Pride in April to align with the academic calendar when most students are on campus; Australian universities celebrate even earlier in the summer months of February to March instead of the winter months of June to August. The University of Sydney participates in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in early March, while The University of Melbourne celebrates its Midsumma Pride March at the start of February. 

Pride events hosted by universities in different countries

pride events

Pride Month was initially known as Gay Pride Day, annually celebrated on the last Sunday of June. Sources: AFP


1. Family Pride Party at Harvard University

In celebration of Pride Month, Harvard hosts several Pride events, including a Family Pride Party. This inclusive event welcomes all LGBTQ+ individuals and families within the Harvard community. It provides a family-friendly environment where children can learn about the LGBTQ+ community through engaging in fun activities such as drag shows, live music, and art workshops.

Additionally, Harvard demonstrates its commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community by offering support systems like Out @ Harvard. This resource lists openly LGBTQ+-identifying faculty, staff, and graduate students who can offer guidance and support to students.

2. All for Love Pride Fest at Boston University

Boston University (BU) boasts its own LGBTQIA+ Centre for Faculty and Staff, serving as a hub where members of the BU community to feel a sense of belonging. The centre provides consultation, resources, and advocacy that creates an inclusive living, learning, and workplace environment for individuals at the university. 

For Pride Month, BU, the LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Centre, and the LGBTQIA+ Centre for Faculty and Staff are hosting the All For Love Pride Fest. The fest, which will take place on June 28, 2024, is open to everyone of all backgrounds. Attendees can enjoy music, food, and fun lawn games. 


1. Diverse Founders’ Network Startup Stories: Panel discussion with LGBTQIA+ founders at UCL

Together with the Diverse Founders’ Network (DFN), University College London (UCL) is hosting a Diverse Founders’ Network Startup Stories panel discussion featuring LGBTQIA+ founders. This event invites anyone interested in learning about how LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs start and run businesses and the challenges they face. 

Like Harvard, UCL offers a social network, Out @ UCL, for LGBTQ+ staff and post-graduates to connect and engage in social events. Out @ UCL organises lunches and evening events, providing opportunities for staff and post-graduates to meet. Additionally, members receive emails with information about LGBTQ+-related events, publications, and news stories, ensuring they stay connected and informed.

2. QMOut Pride Month Picnic at Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London’s LGBTQIA+ staff network, QMOut, is hosting a Pride Month Picnic, welcoming both LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies. The pride event aims to create a safe space for attendees to meet, mingle, and celebrate Pride together. Participants are encouraged to bring their own food and drinks to the picnic. 

In addition to that, Queen Mary is hosting several other Pride events. These include the Books n’ Bakes event, Lunch & Learn: “Putting LGBTQIA+ Carers on the map,” and a special event focused on Celebrating EDI in Science and Engineering. Each event is designed to build, educate, and celebrate the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community within the university.

pride events

Pride Month is celebrated in March in Australia, as June is too cold for parades and marches. Source: AFP


1. Play With Pride Brunch at the University of Adelaide

Adelaide University Sport and the University of Adelaide are collaborating to bring Play with Pride Brunch where LGBTQIA+ athletes, advocates, and allies come together to celebrate inclusion and diversity in sports. Hosted by Jarrod Walsh, the renowned voice of live sports in Australia, the Play with Pride brunch will feature thought-provoking discussions, entertainment, and networking opportunities. 

Among the guests, Andy Brennan, an Australian professional football player and LGBTQ+ advocate in sports will serve as a Keynote speaker and panellist. Joining Brennan will be retired diver and trampolinist Matthew Mitcham O.A.M, triathlete Anu Francis, and many others.

2. Midsumma Pride March with multiple universities

Back in March, Monash University, the University of Melbourne, and Victoria University (VU) participated in the Midsumma Pride March in the 38°C summer heat to show their support. Over 50 VU students, staff members, family, and friends participated in the march with rainbow t-shirts to celebrate Pride Month and the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Additionally, VU has launched a chosen name initiative, allowing staff and students to easily update their preferred name, pronouns, and gender across university information systems. 


1. Wellbeing Walk & Roll – The Really Gay History Tour by the University of British Columbia

On June 19, 2024, the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Department of Athletics and Recreation will host a Wellbeing Walk & Roll — The Really Gay History Tour of Davie Street, Vancouver, one of North America’s most vibrant gay villages. The area is rich in LGBTQ+ history, and Glenn Tkach, the storyteller of the Really Gay History Tour, will guide participants and share stories of how Vancouver’s inclusive society came to be. 

Over the years, the UBC has hosted a number of pride events, such as Evening in Support of CampOUT. Outside of events, they also offer student groups like Gears and Queers, a club comprised of LGBTQ+ engineers and allies dedicated to creating an open, accepting space for queer engineering students at UBC.

2. Touring Special Collections: Pride Edition at the University of Waterloo

Did you know that the University of Waterloo is home to rare books and archival collections related to Pride? In celebration of Pride Month, the university is hosting a free event on June 25, 2024, called Touring Special Collections: Pride Edition, showcasing books with 2SLGBTQIA+ highlights. 

Jessie Blackwell, Librarian of Special Collections & Archives, will lead the tour, along with Rebecka Sheffield, Head of Special Collections & Archives. Rebecka, an expert in 2SLGBTQ+ histories, has nearly a decade of experience working with ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ+ Archive, bringing knowledge and insight to the tour.

pride events

Pride University is a collaboration of different universities in Amsterdam to celebrate Pride Month. Source: AFP

The Netherlands

1. Utrecht Canal Pride 2024 with Utrecht University

The Utrecht Canal Pride is a Pride Parade that takes place with boats in the canal. 

This year, Utrecht University’s boat theme is “Don’t let your love go to waste.” The decorations will be made using recycled banners, biodegradable balloons, and upcycled clothing. A total of 90 university members from Utrecht University and Utrecht University of Applied Sciences will participate in this event. 

Elias Abou Chaaya, a 2023 Utrecht Canal Pride participant, mentions, “The Utrecht Canal Pride was an unforgettable day full of love, fun and celebration. We had an important message: embrace yourself and celebrate each other. Everyone deserves the freedom to be themselves.”

2. Pride University by multiple universities

Established in 2019, Pride University is a collaboration effort between the LGBTQIA+ organisations of the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Inholland, ROCvA, and the University of Amsterdam.

Together, they collaborate to organise annual LGBTQ+-themed lectures that provide a safe learning environment for students, lecturers, and staff members to grow and develop themselves. Topics include queer in sports, the history of the Canal Parade, and Damn, Honey! These lectures are free and accessible to all interested individuals.