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Dean's Blog: Science PRIDE

Dean Fernando Miralles Wilhelm
Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm at the 2016 Pride Parade in San Francisco, California

As we enter the month of June, I wanted to devote this blog post to Pride month, share a bit of my personal experience with colleagues and friends in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ+) community, some of the LGBTQ+ scientists’ contributions, and Mason’s decades-long and current efforts to provide resources for the LGBTQ+ faculty, staff and students.

Any graduate student remembers what it is like to start school in a new place, feeling a bit disoriented, disconnected and looking for any kind of grounding. Over 30 years ago, that graduate student was me. At that time, one of my classmates, Barbara, who was one year my senior, took the time to welcome me in my lab and showed me the ropes of  my new academic environment. As I got to know her better, she introduced my wife Monica and I, newlyweds at the time, to her partner Cecilia, and they quickly became the first of our “couple friends”.

Cecilia introduced Monica to a couple of her friends, Donna and Evelyn, who were looking for a babysitter for their adopted baby boy, Nicolas. Nicolas came from Peru, and Donna and Evelyn hit it off with Monica very quickly. They liked the fact that Nicolas would be able to grow up next to someone who spoke the language from his native land. We’ve all remained friends since that time.

Over my career, I have interacted with many colleagues in the sciences who are LGBTQ+, ranging from students to junior to senior scientists, located all over the world, working across science disciplines in all sorts of challenging problems. I have learned a great deal from many of them and they make me proud of their contributions and achievements. In my mind, for personal and professional reasons, there are a myriad reasons to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride month.

Graphic from Pride event

Beyond those that I have had the fortune to meet and work with, scientific contributions from the LGBTQ+ community are both numerous and significant. Throughout the month of June, the College of Science social media accounts will celebrate LGBTQ+ scientists... including Discovery’s list of LGBT scientists who changed the world and the impact of transgender scientists; representation really does matter

Mason is continuously striving to become one of the most diverse university in the United States.  Mason’s Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment (CCEE) leverages programs and services focused on advocacy and direct student support to strengthen equity and inclusion. The Center’s advising fosters opportunities for identity development, cross-cultural engagement, and inclusive learning communities, affirming the indivisible aspects of all our identities.​

According to CCEE Associate Director for LGBTQ+ Resources, Josh Kinchen, “Mason’s LGBTQ+ Resources team, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, will partner with Mason’s Alumni Association to offer a number of virtual events to commemorate PRIDE month,” including Pride Month Trivia Night on Thursday, 6/17 6 to 8 p.m. EST and a Stonewall panel discussion on Wednesday, 6/23 from 12 to 1 p.m. moderated by members of Mason’s Women and Gender Studies department.  Other local events include the June 12th, 3-6 pm Capital Pride Alliance Colorful Pride mobile Parade in DC.

Other organizations at Mason which provide resources for Mason’s LGBTQ+ community include Mason’s LGBTQ+ Faculty/Staff Alliance, the Lambda alum chapter and Mason’s Pride Alliance. Recognized on campus since 1989, Pride Alliance at is an organization for people of all genders, sexualities, orientations, and expressions with a mission to ensure a safe space for all people, to educate our peers and allies, and to advocate for the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

I encourage you to take time to explore these PRIDE resources, attend events, and expand your understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and look forward to promoting resources and programs as we strive for inclusive excellence.