The University of Louisville’s very own LGBT Center is celebrating ten years of success on campus. There has been a great deal of growth and change that has occurred in the last decade because of the center’s work with the LGBT community.
Many thoughts come to mind when thinking of the center’s prominence in the university community. Students use words such as family, acceptance, and hope to describe their experiences here.
But where did the LGBT center get its start?
The center started as a repurposed closet in 2007 and has since been relocated to The Intersection in the Red Barn where it still resides. It was created as a branch of the Office of Diversity and International Affairs in response to a series of homophobic propaganda that occurred on campus in 2004.
Since its humble start, the LGBT Center has contributed to the growth and success of the university in a myriad of ways.
The LGBT Center was influential in pushing that gender identity be included in the university’s discrimination policy, allowing support for LGBT students that were targeted for their specific identities. UofL was also the first college in Kentucky to offer healthcare to LGBT affiliated staff and faculty. This was a tremendous movement in favor of the LGBT community.
They have made huge advancements as one of the most inclusive and welcoming schools for LGBT students in the United States, a badge of honor that the LGBT Center wears proudly.
UofL is also home to the Bayard Rustin LGBT and Social Justice Themed Living Community, which is one of the first LGBT allied housing options available in the south.
Pride Week is one of the center’s largest series of events of the year. This year’s Pride Week started with a Pride Kickoff and Resource Fair in front of the Red Barn.
Students were greeted with a live DJ and a multitude of meal boxes for free. There were also numerous LGBT affiliated student organizations showing support and offering information about the UofL community. The Health Promotions office was offering free AIDs/HIV testing.
Students also got to participate in the ceremonial flag raising ceremony. The ceremony was kicked off with personal accounts from several individuals of the Bayard Rustin Living Community about how Pride Week and the LGBT Center have positively impacted their lives. With that, rainbow flags fell across the clock tower at the heart of UofL’s campus, once again signaling the support behind the LGBT Center and its students.
Throughout the week, the Ekstrom Library hosted a display to commemorate the ten years of progress that has been made because of the LGBT Center. The display was open to students for free throughout Pride Week.
Events were nearly constant throughout the week, including several keynote speakers that addressed the treatment of LGBT students across the country and encouraged students to embrace who they are. Several films were also a part of the celebration, highlighting the history of the movement for LGBT acceptance.
One of the final events of the week included a presentation entitled Consent Conversations, which is a part of the Health Promotions Office and focuses on the importance of consent in healthy relationships. This will be a part of an ongoing discussion that will specifically target the high number of sexual assaults on college campuses across the country.
The LGBT Center has many events outside of Pride Week as well. One example is PINK!, the longest running student organized fundraiser in UofL history. PINK! is an amateur drag and variety show aimed at enriching the local community with a display of LGBT pride and culture.
All of these events are intended, not only to celebrate pride, but also to ensure that all LGBT students, faculty, and alums know that UofL is a welcoming place where they will fit in. Executive Director, Brian Buford, recalls his experience as an LGBT student when he first came to UofL, stating that there were no clear signs of support at the University. His mission when creating the Center was to change this and transform the UofL community into one of the most accepting universities in the country.
It is clear from the changes that have been made on campus that Brian’s mission has succeeded. LGBT students no longer have to feel uncomfortable or afraid to come to the University of Louisville, because they know it’s an environment that will accept them for who they are.
In the last ten years, UofL has blossomed into a welcoming community for all people, and the future is brighter than ever.