As the parades and celebrations fade off, and the everyday hustle resumes, Mingxuan Yao, a Georgia Tech Ph.D. student, shares his reflections on what Pride Month means for him and his community and how ongoing efforts are needed to genuinely support and integrate the LGBTQIA+ community.

By Mingxuan Yao

As a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, originally from China, I've navigated both the subtle and not so subtle challenges of inclusivity in academia. My journey is not just about being openly gay; it is about nurturing a culture where inclusiveness (of all types) is a constant, rather than being highlighted only during a designated month. 

Back in China, my interactions were guarded. Due to conservative opinions, most parents dismissed their children when they tried to come out. Even if families accepted their children's sexuality, the absence of laws protecting their rights still made their lives harder. 

This cultural backdrop shaped my early experiences, but also my expectations of the academic environment in the United States. At Georgia Tech, I found the freedom to express my identity a stark contrast to my past. This freedom is what I believed higher education in America advertised. However, it was and continues to be more complex than I anticipated.

The Paradox of Pride Month 

Pride Month is often celebrated with parades and rainbows, an explosion of visibility that, for a fleeting moment, brings the LGBTQIA+ community to the forefront. And don’t get me wrong, these celebrations are important and necessary, but they sometimes miss the mark on what it means to be truly inclusive. It is not about the overt displays of support for one month; it is about the subtle nuances of acceptance throughout the year.

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Mingxuan at a pride celebration

Yao at a Pride celebration. 

It is not about the overt displays of support for one month; it is about the subtle nuances of acceptance throughout the year.  

At Georgia Tech, I have observed that while there is a commendable effort to create inclusive spaces and times, these can often end up as echo chambers where diversity of thought can be stifled rather than celebrated. Events can often reduce our identities to mere talking points rather than embracing the full spectrum of who we are as individuals. Inclusion should focus less on our differences and more on our commonalities.

Redefining Support and Engagement  

Support for LGBTQIA+ students can be more than creating safe spaces or specialized events. It should be about integrating our experiences into the mainstream narrative and decision making on campus. 

My hope is that we shift our focus from symbolic support to substantive changes in how we engage with each other. 

Mingxuan Yao

Yao is part of the Cyber Forensics Innovation (CyFI) Lab at Georgia Tech. The team's digital forensic work recently discovered $2 billion of illicit profits from blockchain fraud.

Instead of settling for inclusion that is typically only spotlighted during Pride Month, let us further strive for an environment where every month exemplifies a commitment to real equality and celebrates the diverse and beautiful blend of cultures, backgrounds, ideas, identities, and aspirations that we all contribute to Georgia Tech. 

By fully recognizing the unique contributions of every individual, no matter our differences, we strengthen Georgia Tech’s position at the forefront of innovation and leadership. 

Mingxuan Yao
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Connect with Mingxuan Yao

Mingxuan is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) at Georgia Institute of Technology, under the guidance of Professor Brendan Saltaformaggio in the Cyber Forensics Innovation (CyFI) Lab. His research interests lie in cyber attack forensics and binary analysis techniques. He currently focuses on cyber-threats abusing prestigious web services, aiming to adopt different novel strategies to boost the analysis process.

View his website

Georgia Tech Resources for LGBTQIA Students


The LGBTQIA Resource Center at Georgia Tech coordinates a range of programs and events throughout the year aimed at educating faculty, students, and staff, providing safe spaces for students to build community and explore their identities, and facilitating conversations about intercultural community building and belonging.

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