John Monaghan ’11 is on the front lines of the fight for equal rights through his internship at the Empire State Pride Agenda’s New York City office.
“I have been an activist for LGBT issues since junior high,” says Monaghan. “When I started my first year at Hobart and became more interested in public policy, I thought that interning at the Pride Agenda would be a great way to gain real-world experience of some of the issues and concepts we discussed in my classes.”
While Monaghan has been extremely active on campus as co-president of PRIDE Alliance, organizing the largest single collegiate group to Equality and Justice Day and bringing speakers such as Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle to campus, he is grateful for the opportunity to become directly involved in the movement for LGBT rights.
“It’s nice to be involved in a particular movement and to be able to say that you’ve been a part of it, to say of a certain project, ‘That was my idea,’” explains Monaghan. “You’re no longer restrained to contributing from the outside; you’re working within the movement and adding your own influence to it.”
Community outreach into the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island is an important part of Monaghan’s work, and he spends much of his time spreading the word about Pride Agenda’s goals and gleaning the support of New Yorkers. “We’re trying to build awareness of LGBT people and our issues, so I have been reaching out into the LGBT community and our straight allies, through religious congregations, unions and businesses,” Monaghan says.
He has also been working to spread the word about GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act), which recently passed in the New York State Assembly. If passed by the State Senate, the bill will protect transgender New Yorkers by making it illegal to fire, evict or deny credit to someone because of how he or she presents his or her gender.
Currently, Monaghan is working on a project called the LGBT Photo Album, a scrapbook which includes photos of LGBT families and stories about the adversities LGBT individuals have faced due to legal inequalities. Monaghan aims to have it displayed in Village Hall in the Village of Nyack as part of the Photo Album’s tour around the state.
Monaghan’s intended major, public policy, dovetails seamlessly with his internship at the Pride Agenda. “My courses at HWS focus on interdisciplinary education, which reflects directly into the Pride Agenda’s work,” he explains. “My education helped me learn to think of different ways to tie in all aspects of an issue, which has been helpful as I get my footing in a field with a multi-faceted approach to politics.”