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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Q&A with Pride Alliance Co-Director Mary Knudson

Zi Yang Lai

Mary Knudson, left, and Jacob Winkelman, right, co-directors of ASUA Pride Alliance, pose for a photo at the Coming Out Week Resource Fair on the UA Mall on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

UA Pride Alliance Co-Director Mary Knudson, a cultural anthropology senior with a minor in linguistics answers questions about Pride and life.

What do you identify as?

Mary Knudson: I’ll use lesbian sometimes. I’ll use queer as well, just because it’s a fun word.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Colby, Kansas, which is a small farming town in northwestern Kansas. But I grew up in Gilbert, Arizona, so yay.

What’s your favorite thing about the UA?

One of the big factors coming here was just how much school pride there is here. I really dig that, even though I don’t end up going to a lot of the games. But also I’m an anthro student and the UA is on the top-10 list of anthropology schools in the world, and we have a lot of excellent professors here. There’s a lot of direct involvement opportunities, which is really cool — a lot of little things you can do, and just like classes. I love it. I love every second of it.

What did you want to be when you were a little kid?

… I jumped around a lot. My dad’s a construction worker, so I really wanted to be a construction worker; I wanted to own a tuna fishing boat and be a fisherman; I wanted to be an airplane pilot, and I was seriously considering doing stage management and theatre when I was 16.

What career are you pursuing after graduation?

Eventually I’m looking to be a foreign officer in the [U.S. Department of State].

What made you want to be co-director of Pride?

I actually only volunteered with Pride Alliance part-time last year, because I’m a transfer student and I transferred from a community college last year. It was really cool just being able to work in this environment and get really involved in the activism that we do. I didn’t feel like anyone else was stepping up to the plate, necessarily. So I was like, “Oh well that’s a good opportunity. It’s my senior year. If I don’t do it now, I’m never going to get to do it.” So I applied.

What do you … want to accomplish this year?

This is the year to set the foundation for [diversity, outreach and collaboration].

What issues do LGBTQ students at UA currently face?

There are a lot of them, and some of them are just historic things that come and go. Like housing is a lot of times a hard thing, and we work with a lot students individually on getting housing where they feel comfortable. Res[idence] Life has been really open and receptive to working one-on-one with people, which is super awesome. Every year, the [Institute of LGBTQ Studies] puts out an assessment. Even though a lot of students in our community are out, they still feel a little uncomfortable on campus, and that there is still a level of distaste that makes them feel unwelcome or unsafe, which is a really big issue. As well as the fact that, a lot of the times, when you come out in college, it’s a very precarious thing to do because some families will cut you off, or they won’t talk to you. As a college student a lot of us rely on not even just financial support, but just support from our family.

How was coming out for you?

It was kind of a process for me, it took a long time, and I was out to a lot of my friends early on, but I didn’t come out to my family until my freshman year in college. I came out kind of individually to each of them, and it was really hard at first and a hard thing for them to digest. My parents are youth leaders in a church, so there was this weird ‘we didn’t really talk about it’ [moment]. … I could tell they wanted to, but they received it really weird. But now it’s been a few years and they’re super awesome about it and so supportive. They’ve taken steps to educate themselves on stuff so they can connect with me, and we can talk about things. It’s been really great, and I feel so much better about things.

Are there any Coming Out Week events you’d like to mention?

… On Wednesday, Dulce Garcia is doing a consent workshop in the WRC at 6:30 [p.m.]. She identifies as a Fat Xicana Femme, which is really cool identity to have. She just does sex education, talking about consent and what it means and how to actively practice it. It will be super rad.

Any last thoughts?

If you’re kind of scared to come by here or talk to us, that’s totally fine, and you can email us. We really encourage you to come hang out and see what we have to offer. We have a lot of different things for a lot of different people, so come visit!

Learn more about Coming Out week by visiting

Follow Chastity Laskey on Twitter.

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