Over 50 Yale School of Medicine (YSM) students, residents, and faculty, along with a few Yale graduate students, attended the New York City (NYC) LGBTQIA+ Pride March together on June 30, 2019. Waleed Khan, a rising second-year at YSM and current co-chair of OutPatient, YSM’s student LGBTQIA+ affinity group, initiated the excursion. Khan, who received his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 2018, marched in the Pride Parade in Toronto last year, as part of a large University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine contingent. This experience planted the seed to engage the YSM community around the NYC event.
Khan had never attended the NYC Pride March, and viewed it as one of the major Pride events, particularly this year, with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Representing OutPatient, Khan approached the YSM Diversity, Inclusion, Community Engagement, and Equity (DICE) office, to ask if they would subsidize train fare for a small number of YSM attendees.
The DICE team, including Darin Latimore, MD, deputy dean and chief diversity officer, Linda Jackson, associate director, and Teresa Hines, program coordinator,embraced the idea and told the OutPatient group that they should not feel constrained to limit participation. Latimore encouraged expanding the event because he wanted “to demonstrate to the students that YSM is an inclusive environment for the LGBTQIA+ community, and also help the students develop their own sense of community at YSM and across campus.” Cindy Du, MD ’22, was appreciative, stating “it was fantastic to have the 50th anniversary of Pride marked by a trip to Pride, and especially so that it was officially sponsored by DICE as an office in YSM.”
Based on DICE’s encouragement, Khan used YSM student listserves to invite people to participate, and word then spread to others across campus. The result: DICE sponsored 51 Metro-North tickets to/from NYC for the march for a broad range of Yale community members; DICE also bought OutPatient t-shirts with Yale Pride printed on them for the event. OutPatient encouraged attendees to display their YSM identity at the march. To assist, Khan organized a gathering at YSM a few days prior, where about 20 community members tie-dyed or spray painted scrubs and Yale Pride t-shirts in rainbow colors.
As June 30 approached, additional members of the YSM community let OutPatient know they would join the group in NYC. Khan described the group’s breadth as “amazing”, well beyond his own YSM class of 2022, allowing him to connect with people at the school and beyond that he had never met before.
OutPatient thought it would be powerful to signal medical education’s support of LGBTQIA+ rights more broadly, and so reached out to LGBTQIA+ groups at a few NYC-based medical schools. Students at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine responded positively, and their dorms became the meet-up location for the YSM and NYU groups, conveniently located nearby the start of the march route at Madison Square Park. Latimore is “ecstatic” that the students reached out to other schools, explaining “the students have started the process of building ties that could lead to collaboration around conferences, advocacy, and research.”
Latimore stated “as a person in leadership at YSM, I consider it my job to help empower learners and faculty from marginalized, minoritized and stigmatized communities to recognize their ability to be leaders,” and he hopes that the Yale Pride march excursion helped the organizers and participants “feel more empowered, that they can make a difference.” Khan, for one, is looking ahead and hopes that in the future YSM will have an even bigger presence, perhaps even officially marching in the parade.