Highlighting LGBT Center Resources

Cishella Durling: Hi everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Student Affairs Podcast series. My name is Cishella Durling, and I'm going to be your host again today and I am very much looking forward to this podcast as we are going to be talking to the amazing director of the LGBT Center. But what makes this podcast so cool is I'm actually having a co-host today, so I'm going to go ahead and let her introduce herself.

Samantha MacKenzie: Thank you. Hi everyone. I am Samantha McKenzie. I'm the student advocate in the Dean of Students office and I'm so excited to be doing this– talking about how we can support our LGBTQ+ student.

Byron Terry: Hey, hey, good morning, everybody. My name is Byron Terry. I am the director of the LGBT center. I use he/they pronouns. Super happy to be here, ready to share what the LGBT center has to offer to you all in addition to putting us out there, because one of the biggest things that we want to do is find out how we can connect to more students. What do you all want to see from the LGBT center and just much, much more. So, this is a great opportunity and happy to be here.

Cishella Durling: And thank you to the both of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to come and share this wonderful information with our student population. We're going to go ahead and dive right on into this podcast with my very first question for you, Byron. And basically, if you could just share some of the key LGBTQ+ resources at UofL and how they contribute to creating a supportive environment for the LGBTQ+ community.

Byron Terry: Perfect. Perfect. So, I guess I want to start off with a little bit of history. So, the LGBT center is actually the oldest LGBT center in the South. We're also one of the Top 40 LGBT centers in the nation. This is through the Campus Pride index. And so, every day, we're striving to live up to that—that achievement and award and whole place for that. So, some of the things that we do are events. One of the main things about the LGBTQ+ community is building community and what we know is that the LGBTQ+ population has the largest youth homeless and houseless population. And so, because of that, a lot of students come to us and need a community and need support. So, we have tons of events that students can participate in. Some of our key events are Prior Keynote, we have PINK, we do a thing called Get Prep where we work with UK. And with Get Prep, we basically get tested for HIV on both campuses and the winner gets to take home a beautiful trophy for that year and bragging rights. I wish I had it with me to show off, but you know, stop by the LGBT center, it’ll give you a reason to stop by and you'll be able to see that. Another great resource that we have is our student groups. We have so many student groups and we're always building and expanding more. So, we have Saga, we have Shades, Cardinal Drag House, we've had Transitions in the past; and we're willing to work with students, connect them to groups that they believe would be best for them and actually really build out and create space as well.

We also help students with day-to-day things. We do student coaching. So, what student coaching looks like is that we have students, it's completely voluntary, they can reach out, sign up. And student coaches, not only is a place where students can share troubles that they're going through or find support and resources, but it's also to give you someone to share victories with, someone who might be able to connect you with. Maybe a job opportunity that we've heard about, or you know, I know someone who has a similar interest, maybe you all can work together. So, we really do a lot of service and resources here. It's me in the office and it's also a coworker, Goldie, as well. They are the new Assistant Director, yay Goldie. And so yes, we work really, really hard to make sure that we create space, and not just a space that is one-dimensional; we're really big on intersectionality. So yeah, those are some of the things that we offer.

Samantha MacKenzie: Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing all of that. And that is — really, I didn't —I knew it was a well-known and really well-respected center. I didn't know it was the first one in the South. And so that is really awesome to hear that UofL, in general, was proactive and established that first, and that kind of actually leads into my question. So, we talked a little bit about the LGBTQ+ center, what you all do. But kind of bigger picture; in what ways does the university promote inclusivity and diversity for LGBTQ+ students? And are there specific programs or initiatives that exist outside of just what the center does?

Byron Terry: Absolutely. So, one of the things I didn't mention, the last thing is a resource that we offer that's really big is trainings. We offer safe zone trainings, trainings on pronouns, gender, etcetera. And so, a lot of departments and other resource groups come and work with us to make sure that their language is inclusive. They come and work with us to make sure that they're up to date and all these great things about the LGBTQ+ community, but also themselves, too. You don't have to be a part of the LGBTQ community to learn and gain resources from us as well. Another thing that we do is reach out and work with different spots in the community. Whether it's community service or just different things of that nature, we do that as well. We've worked for housing in the past. We have a living learning community or themed housing where students that are part of the LGBTQ+ community, or identify as allies, can definitely be a part of that community as well. And then in addition to that, we worked with housing to recently work with policies that support our trans students.

Also, in addition to those things, we, like I mentioned before, we work with UK. We really want to branch out and work with campuses across, just a bit like a coalition for lack of better words. So, K State, a student from K state actually reached out to me yesterday and was very interested. They started a student group and they were just very interested in the support and help. And so, we are, as the university, just providing our support, help and guidance as they build up their space for LGBTQ+ students. So, the work that we do because of the reputation and title that we have really branches out to other spaces on campus.

So, I've had the opportunity to work with employee success and they're one of our biggest partners that offer¬—that work with me to offer trainings consistently for the campus population, our employees, and things of that nature. There're so many people that I've had the opportunity to work with. Athletics, right? Athletics and I have worked together to create an LGBTQ+ student intern. And so that intern did projects that related to athletics, but they also did projects that related to LGBT in the intersection of those things. So, they might be at games tabling, passing out shirts, they're doing research, they're creating infographics and things of that nature. So, we really worked with a lot of departments on campus—Greek life, as I continue to talk so many pop into my head. We've done events with Greek life to highlight. One of them was Hidden Figures to talk about LGBTQ+ members that were Greek but also lived in the past. So, it was a radical celebration because during, you know it was illegal to be gay at a certain point in history. So, we were able to highlight and bring light to those things with the Greek community as well and members of their community. So, we really worked really hard to work with so many departments across campus and create space that way.

Cishella Durling: There are a ton of initiatives that the LGBT center is taking on, and I love that, I love that for the LGBTQ+ students and the community overall, because I think you're spot on; creating those coalitions and making those connections just show that we're supporting our students, so I love that. So, kind of to bounce off of that. Are there any other specific measures or initiatives in place that not only ensure LGBTQ academic success, but also contribute to their overall well-being and social integration within the Community?

Byron Terry: Absolutely. So, like I had mentioned before, we do an event called PINK. With PINK, we actually get someone to be a house parent from the local drag community. We have worked with the Sweet Evening Breeze, we have worked at Louisville Youth Group, and just different LGBTQ+ organizations as well. The university as a whole has participated in the Pride Celebration that goes on in the city in June, and also, we've done just tons and tons of things that make sure that we are integrating the work that we do. And integrating outside community members. Also, alumni, right. So, we've done events with alumni, panel discussions just talking about the LGBT center, ‘Here and Now’, where Brian Buford, who is the founder of the LGBT Center, and I had a conversation about where LGBT Center has been, what the struggles were; actually creating an LGBT center in that time and being one of the first, all the way into what we look for in the future. Because I think a lot of the great work that we're able to do is built on the foundation that came before us. Somebody had to lay down the bricks. Somebody had to put down the foundation. So, I'm able to attach to all these things and build foundations and have all these intersectional conversations because of the work that was put in before me, so I'd never, never take that for granted. And I know that we're able to build the center and the spaces that we want to on campus that provide safety, belonging, community on campus and off, simply because of those foundations.

Samantha MacKenzie: Awesome. So, I know you mentioned a couple of events at the beginning, but which ones are coming up kind of soon and recently? And then I know there's lots of different ways for students to get involved, and I also know that there's different ways for faculty and staff to get involved, because I think there is a faculty and staff association as well. And so, if somebody was interested in learning more how do they get in touch with you all?

Byron Terry: Absolutely. So, you can always e-mail us. You can always go to the LGBTQ+ website, that's: louisville.edu/LGBT, and then you can find our information there as well as some of the things that we have going on. So, for this upcoming year, we've got, well, this semester, we have great events coming up. Tomorrow,we actually have a Black HIV Trivia that will be hosted in Shumaker. Please check out our Instagram. That is another way to get in touch with us. We have our Get Activist event coming up where we bring in local community members that talk about activism, how they get involved in community, how students can use their voices to be active on their campus and community, as well.

We're doing our trans week of visibility coming up this year, which is Rainbow Walk where we will do some chalking on campus just to support pride to LGBTQ blood centers and we know that chalking has a history here that we want to honor and support and make sure students feel safe and protected as they chalk these campuses. We're doing a movie screening, PINK of course, a screening of Barrier. Listen, we're doing a blood drive coming up in April, which is like almost taboo in the LGBTQ+ community, because historically LGBTQ+ members haven't been able to give blood, especially gay men, because of HIV scares. But we do know that those laws and things have changed, allowing LGBTQ+ members to do that. So, we're going to be having the blood drive, passing out information about the history and things of that nature because a lot of people don't know that history. So, it's time to not only share history but also share accomplishments and movement forward. And then also, once again, I mentioned we’ve got Get Prepped coming up. And then lastly to end off the year, we always do our Lavender Graduation where we celebrate graduates that identify as LGBTQ+ or allies, and they have the ceremony, rainbow chords, and just different things of that nature. So, we have a lot of great things coming up and we're super, super excited about that.

Cishella Durling: I really appreciate how engaged the LGBT Center is in creating events, creating these connections, and creating these spaces for our LGBTQ+ students. I hope whoever is listening definitely gets connected and feels safe and comfortable engaging in LGBTQ+ community here at the University of Louisville, so thank you so much for sharing all of that wonderful information. I think it's going to be super beneficial for students and help them connect, so we're going to go ahead and wrap this up with Did You Know? That the LGBT center is located on the Belknap campus, in the Cultural and Equity Center. So be sure to stop by or visit online at louisville.edu/LGBT. All right, everybody, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate both of you and we will go ahead and wrap this up. Take care everyone.


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