As Margarita Johnson, a social work student from Fordham Westchester, made her way down the middle of Fifth Avenue on June 25, cane in hand, a crowd of spectators roared its approval.

“It means the world to me that Fordham is represented here today,” said Johnson, who described herself as an “out lesbian.”

Anthony Gatti
Anthony Gatti, FCRH ’14, reacts to seeing his alma mater in the march.

“Today I’m a Ram, I’m a real Raaaaaaam!”

For the very first time, Fordham University was represented in New York’s annual Gay Pride March by a contingent of some 30 alumni and friends. Organized by the Rainbow Rams alumni chapter and the Office of Alumni Relations, the event was a long time coming for several students and alumni, said participants.

“I march for all of those in the military who came before and weren’t able to show both their military pride and gay pride,” said Patrick Damon, FCLC ’13, a 3rd class petty officer in the U.S. Navy. “I’m happy to be one of the first, and I’m sure there’s a long stream of us to come.”

Damon garnered as many cheers in his Navy whites as Johnson did with her cane. On Christopher Street, dozens reached out to shake his hand, give him a hug, and salute him.

Aileen Reynolds, FCRH ’14, former president of the Fordham student body, said that being part of the parade officially under a banner that read “Fordham, the Jesuit University of New York” was historic.

Barbara Senecal-Davis
Barbara Senecal-Davis, Ph.D., GRE ’16, executive minister at First Presbyterian Church, hands out water in front of her church.

While this might have been the University’s first official representation, Vincent Marans, FCRH ’82, GSAS ’84, acknowledged that it wasn’t the first time Fordham alumni had marched in the parade or volunteered for gay causes.

“It’s been a long time coming to be able to show pride for a very sizable, and very strong, part of our community,” he said. “There are a lot of great alumni, and they contribute to both the parade and to Fordham. It’s great to see the two finally come together.”

Rainbow Rams member Stephen Erdman, FCRH ’13, helped to organize the University’s participation. He said that Fordham “has been supportive in a way that feels genuine.”

Abby Kamphausen, a rising junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, said there’s a need to continue to make sure that everyone who falls under the acronym LGBTQ gets recognized, “and not just the ‘G.’”

And Jeffrey Cipriano, FCLC ’14, said that gay people have always been at Fordham, though they may not have been “out.” He said that the LGBTQ community shares a bond with other newly formed alumni groups, such as MOSAIC, the multicultural affinity chapter.

“I think we now understand that it’s another alumni community that needs to be served,” said Cipriano. “And it’s our job to serve them because that’s’ what our institution does.”


Tom Stoelker is senior staff writer and visual media coordinator for Fordham News. After fifteen years as a freelance designer, Tom shifted his focus to writing and photography. He graduated from Lehman College, CUNY where he majored in English literature and photography and he received his master's in journalism from Columbia University. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Wall Street Journal, and The Architect's Newspaper, where he was associate editor.