As part of GALA ND/SMC’s on-going commitment to support Notre Dame and St Mary’s LGBT students, every summer GALA sponsors a student to attend Camp Pride, the nation’s premiere LGBTQ Leadership Academy for undergraduate LGBTQ and ally students. Each year we ask the participating student to share their experiences with us.
2016 – Elsie Ngomi ND ’18
The 2016 student attending Camp Pride was Elsie Ngomi, a ND sophomore from Arlington Texas. Elsie shared her experience while attending camp:
Thanks to GALA-ND/SMC I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend Camp Pride 2016. Upon having to finish up finals week for summer session early, I flew into Charlotte late that night. The next morning, I was awoken by loud banging on the door to welcome me to Camp Pride… and also to wake me up for that day’s events because I had overslept in being exhausted from the previous days. I can tell you, I have never been in such an atmosphere before in my life, and I can say it has been the best atmosphere I have ever been in in my entire life. So welcoming. So accepting. So refreshing to be allowed to be myself and fostering that for all entering the space no matter your preferences or identities. This is the atmosphere I was expecting when I got to Notre Dame. Unfortunately, that was not the case, but another thing I got from Camp Pride was ideas to make ND that type of space. From the caucuses to the talks at lunch to the guest speakers who came to speak to us that week, I grew in knowledge. Some identities I wasn’t even exposed to until I attended Camp Pride and to see such a beautiful group of people come together and accept one another was a dream, is the dream that I hope will someday reach our campus someday. I am very open on campus about who I am and who I choose to love. Because of that, it was hard for me to be in my dorm with my girlfriend at the time because people would complain that they were “uncomfortable” when a heterosexual couple could get away with being X-Rated in the hallway. It was impossible for me to find a roommate because no one would room with me because I had confidence in who I am. I don’t think it is right that people be ostracized because of who they are, how they were made, who they were born to be. Camp Pride reassured me of this and even though I do not hold any official position, they gave me tips, tool, and most importantly the courage and motivation to affect change here and hang in there. I still have two more years left at ND. Why not make the most of them? I made new lifelong friends and connections and I have no regrets in going. Thank you to all of GALA-ND/SMC for sponsoring me to attend camp this year. I know there would have been no other way I would have been able to have the great and uplifting experience I did while I was there without you guys. This will definitely not be the last time you here from me or of me. It’s time to get to work, to help make ND an accepting and great place for all and I hope to work with more of you on this along the way..
Notre Dame, Class of 2018