AU Celebrates GLBT History
AU ranks as one of only twenty universities in the nation to receive a five-star rating from the Campus Equality Index – an organization that measures universities’ support and affirmation of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.
As part of this support and affirmation, the GLBTA Resource Center – along with other campus life and academic departments – celebrated GLBT History Month through October.
Matt Bruno, program coordinator of the GLBTA Resource Center at AU, helped organize and oversee many of the month’s events. He hoped that the month would bring history, personal experiences, and understanding to an attentive campus body.
“There are a lot of things that people don’t know about the LGBT community and our history,” he says. “I think people at AU would be specifically interested because it’s such an affirming place.”
From panel discussions to film showings, a night out at the theater, AIDS Walk, and drag show, the month featured a number of events meant to raise awareness on issues surrounding the GLBT community. The GLBTA Resource Center even rolled out an advanced, 2.0 version of its Safe Sticker Program, which educates students, staff, and faculty on how to make AU a more inclusive environment.
School of Public Affairs freshman Paul Grobman is more than impressed with the month’s programming.
“My high school was very progressive, and all we did was celebrate Purple Day on the 20th,” he shares, referencing the day of memorial for victims of bullying-induced suicide. “Here, they’re having events two, three times a week. That’s fantastic.”
Sara Ross, a freshman International Studies major, found the Coming Out Monologues most impactful.
“I think it was a really powerful way to get the message out about the issues that surround coming out,” she says.
Ross and Grobman attended the showing of the deceptive 1980 CBS Reports documentary “Gay Power, Gay Politics.” They both agree that it’s crucial to look back at the past, whether positive or negative.
“I think it’s important to look back to the history because those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it,” he says. “You see how far we’ve come and how much times have changed –“
“– and how much it’s stayed the same,” Ross interjects.
“Yeah, and you can learn from that,” Grobman says.
AU’s GLBTA Resource Center and its supportive campus community set it apart from many universities.
“Other places will call us to get information on our programs because we’ve been around for a while,” Bruno explains. “In that way, it is great to be looked upon as a university that’s doing really great work that people can get advice from.”
The great work comes from various student and campus life organizations. October’s programming was sponsored by everyone from the Kay Spiritual Life Center to the Office of Alumni Relations and the Community Service Coalition.
“We aren’t the only people doing LGBT things on campus, which is great. It’s great to not be the only ones who want to do it,” Bruno shares.
The Center even claims national leadership positions. Its director, Sara Bendoraitis, co-chairs the National Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. She believes the Center’s success has a lot to do with the university’s definition of and commitment to diversity.
“I don’t necessarily think that we have a larger queer community than anywhere, but our community is much more open. LGBT issues are talked about not only in our center but in residence halls, classes, and different areas,” she says. “I think it talks to the larger idea that LGBT issues are part of diversity, which isn’t necessarily the view on a lot of campuses.”