As we conclude PRIDE Week, we honor Erin Duran, the fearless director of LGBTQA Advocacy and Education. In Erin’s three years at Gettysburg, he has established institutional support for the LGBTQA community and has worked to make the campus more inclusive and accepting of all students.

A first generation college student, Erin admits he almost didn’t go to college. He knew he was queer before he knew the word for queer and saw college as an opportunity to explore who he was and to be himself without the consequences of others. It was because of his time at Grinnell College that made him want to pursue work in higher education in order to make higher education as liberating and transformative time for others as it was for him.

Erin has worked to fill the need for community education, for faculty, staff, and students. He has worked to update language used in trainings to align Gettysburg with what has been established as the best practices. He has worked with student speaker panels, helped the student group Friend or Foe begin, updated safer zone training, and has been focusing more on policy and institutional cultural aspects now that his position is full-time, including gender neutral housing and bathrooms, preferred name policy, and trans inclusive health insurance.

Erin attributes the hard work of the students and their support of him for the growth and success of the Office of LGBTQA Advocacy and Education. His one-one-one support has enabled students to step up and offer better, more well-tailored programming. Pride Week has gotten stronger each year and this year’s involvement with Sexual Assault Awareness Month has been extremely important. Erin also notes that more initiatives, especially the career workshops for the LGBTQA community, speaks great lengths about how far we’ve come and how we are serving the students.

Erin states he is most proud of the panel on trans inclusion in the military his first semester at Gettysburg and the panel with queer alumni from the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 00s, for it is important to acknowledge the negative experiences in order to grow and learn from them. Looking towards the future, Erin hopes to have a more formalized and strengthened alumni network of queer individuals, including alumni mentorship for current students. He’s interested in increased participation with Greek Life and athletics and hopes to continue examining the complex intersections of people’s identities with more diverse student organizations co-sponsoring with other organizations.