One Student's Reflections on Pride

June 30, 2022

June 30 is the end of the academic year, and the close of Pride Month. It is a time of celebration and contemplation at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. During this transition point, we checked in with student Riki Eijima, who reflected on recent heritage months, the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, and how her Columbia Mailman School experience intersects with it all.

How do you celebrate Pride?

Pride is right after AAPI Heritage Month! As a queer, fourth-generation Nikkei (person of the Japanese diaspora), I consider both May and June to be celebrations of the two identities I wear most visibly and proudly. While I feel an extra special sense of pride in my identity during May and June, I feel prideful year-round. I am grateful to all those who have fought and continue to fight for the liberation of Black, Latinx, Native/Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American (APIDA), Middle Eastern, North African, multiracial, multiethnic, LGBTQIA+ lives. I am who I am because of you.

How have you been celebrating Pride?

I have been celebrating Pride this month by spending time with my chosen and given family. I recently watched Fire Island  with my queer, trans, and non-binary friends of color from Columbia Mailman and would definitely recommend giving this a watch! It was funny, smart, and had great commentary on class relations in the queer community. I am currently reading On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Vuong's stunning prose fills my Asian American queer soul. I also just came out to my adopted grandparents and feel so blessed to have their love and support. 

How has the meaning of Pride changed since the Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade?

During a month of what is supposed to be a time of celebration for LGBTQIA+ people, this ruling serves as a reminder of the reality of the fragility of rights in this country, especially for low-income, LGBTQIA+ Black, Indigenous, Brown, and other people of color. As an aspiring community health educator, I hope to leverage my education and privilege to ensure that all people who are currently or able to become pregnant receive the safest, most culturally sensitive healthcare possible. I have faith that the power of the people will prevail. 

Riki Eijima is a 2023 MPH Candidate in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences. She is a FORWARD Community Fellow and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology with a Minor in Public Health from Occidental College.