Dr. Audrey Ervin Hosts a Virtual Panel Discussion as Part of Pride Month

Posted on by Leyla Danis '21, a media and communication major and marketing intern
Audrey Ervin, professor of counseling psychology and Doylestown Pride co-chair
Dr. Audrey Ervin is a Delaware Valley University professor of counseling psychology. In addition to teaching at DelVal, she serves as a co-chair of the Doylestown Pride Festival Committee.

On June 23, 2020, Dr. Ervin, a professor of counseling psychology at Delaware Valley University, served as the host for a virtual LGBTQ+ panel discussion. The event, “LGBT History and the Pride Flag,” was held through Zoom and was sponsored by Doylestown Pride. In addition to teaching at DelVal, Dr. Ervin is a Doylestown Pride Festival Committee co-chair.

The panelists were Dr. Elana Betts, Dr. David Hall, Marlene Pray, DelVal graduate counseling psychology alumna Emily Sjögren, and Dr. Jeanne L. Stanley. 

Dr. Ervin asked panelists to discuss some of the ways that LGBTQ+ people have experienced systemic oppression. Panelists talked about the historical marginalization of LGBTQ+ people and some of the overt and covert ways that people have been harmed through religion, politics, policing and laws. Microaggressions are part of this issue. 

The history of the gay pride flag was briefly discussed, recognizing that police harassment and beatings were part of what people were rebelling against at Stonewall. Connections to Black Lives Matter, such as “Black Trans Lives Matter” protests in Brooklyn, were discussed. Panelists talked about the histories of the gay pride flag that has six colors and the Philly pride flag, which has black and brown stripes representing LGBTQ+ people of color. Intersectionality plays a big role in the LGBTQ+ community. 

Panelists also discussed why Pride Month is important to them. It was agreed that Pride Month is about celebrating victories, feeling uplifted, and being reflective of those who came before us to work towards what we are today. Pride is a radical act of self-love, and a time of celebration, and creating strength. 

“It’s imperative to recognize that what we today called Pride began when LGBTQ+ people were fighting back against, hatred, intolerance, invisibility and oppression,” said Dr. Ervin. 

While reflecting on the history of Pride and what it is now; Dr. Ervin asked the audience to consider what still needs to happen.

Panelists discussed how it’s not always about thousands coming together, because an impact can be made with one or two people. It’s about what we do individually. 

As far as the future of Pride, the support that the LGBTQ+ community provides to other movements is important. Several of the Black Lives Matter protests have been supported by the LGBTQ+ community. Panelists also reflected on how it is important that we pass the mic to the young people, as the younger generation has done a lot in educating the older generation. 

A discussion participant asked if the LGBTQ community has been co-opted. Sjögren answered with the thought that in some aspects, the support of corporations has been performative. 

Corporations and businesses often use the idea of Pride as a marketing gimmick. Many include clothing with supportive messages and Pride flags only in June and do not speak out about legislation, or show support throughout the rest of the year.

 “I would like to see corporations show representation and show solidarity,” said Sjögren.

The panelists discussed some concrete steps people can take to create more inclusive communities. 

An important concept is the attention that needs to be put towards the school districts; focusing on policies, curriculum choices, practices, and training. Students and parents can submit public comments and write letters about issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion. 

Another concrete step people can take is learning about LGBTQ+ history through podcasts, and readings. Panelists reminded us that focusing on these things makes students’ lives better, and that it’s important to take steps all year and not just during Pride Month.

“People change when you have contact and when you have the courage to have contact with people who are different than you,” said Dr. Ervin. “Trying to hear people, and go beyond our own internal dialogue to connect, is when people rise up; when you arrive meeting the human person who is a product of all the social conditioning.”

Closing up, and ending on a positive note, panelists gave stories of the support they have received from friends and family.