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This June, the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy is featuring the stories of our LGBTQ* community. We spoke with people from within our college and around UK to reflect on what Pride Month means to them.

Originally from Kentucky, Tuesday Meadows graduated from UK with a degree in Business Administration in 1977 and is the current president of the Pride Cats LGBTQ Group of the UK Alumni Association. She also works with UK HealthCare as a citizen advocate through Transform Health and other groups, and has served on multiple patient panels within the College of Pharmacy.

I came out late in life, but I knew I would come out and live my true life as soon as I could. Renée Richards was an early inspiration. I later learned of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera during my research when I was preparing to come out. Actress Laverne Cox hit the screen at the same time I was socially transitioning. In February 2014, I went to see her speak at the University of Kentucky, which had a significant influence on me at the time.

Pride to me is openness. That’s important because many of us face a hostile society in which we can be discriminated against on many different levels. From healthcare to other important services, the LGBTQ community has to stand up often and demand our rights. Pride Month is a time when I tell everyone that I’m a human being and should be treated just like everyone—I am proud of who I am.

Pride Month usually has great events, but it’s also a time to stop and remember those who came before us and fought for our rights. I love history and almost every Pride Month I learn something new about my community. On campus, the Dinkle-Mas Suite for LGBTQ* Resources in the Student Center is a wonderful place where not only can students and faculty come together, but alumni can stay connected to campus.

I never tell anyone that they should or should not come out, but I do reflect on my own experience. No matter what I did—staying in the closet or transitioning to live my truth—I was still transgender, and nothing could change that. My decision was between: “Do I want to be tormented on the inside by hiding?” or “Do I want to face a hostile society by living out in the open?” I figured that I could find people who would support me, and I could stay away from those who disapprove of my existence. However, when one keeps the torment on the inside there is no escape.

LGBTQ* & ALLY RESOURCES

We wish to remember and honor those who inhabited this Commonwealth before the arrival of the Europeans. Briefly occupying these lands were the Osage, Wyndott tribe, and Miami peoples. The Adena and Hopewell peoples, who are recognized by the naming of the time period in which they resided here, were here more permanently. Some of their mounds remain in the Lexington area, including at UK’s Adena Park.

In more recent years, the Cherokee occupied southeast Kentucky, the Yuchi southwest Kentucky, the Chickasaw extreme western Kentucky and the Shawnee central Kentucky including what is now the city of Lexington. The Shawnee left when colonization pushed through the Appalachian Mountains. Lower Shawnee Town ceremonial grounds are still visible in Greenup County.

We honor the first inhabitants who were here, respect their culture, and acknowledge the presence of their descendants who are here today in all walks of life including fellow pharmacists and healthcare professionals.