by JESSICA MAHMOUD
Originally published on Queersmatter and Uloop.
I go to 1 in 4 colleges that has an LGBTQ Resources Center, but many schools have LGBTQ-specific organizations or clubs. Here’s some of the advantages of getting involved in your school or nearby LGBTQ Center.
1. Labels: In case you’re not aware, LGBTQ is an acronym of labels: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning. Although it might seem disappointing that these labels are so prominent, in our generation, I feel we are becoming a lot more accepting. Maybe the words aren’t going away, but the acceptance of how you identify yourself is growing, which is fabulous.
2. Support: The LGBTQ Center is a great place for support, like counseling and different groups. These are great to get through tough times that this community faces, like coming out and being accepted. If you’re not into talking, here’s the place to find free resources, like books and pamphlets to take with you.
3. Events: At most colleges, the LGBTQ Center is just like the Theatre Club, with its own events. At my school, we have workshops, T-shirts, and even a Gayme Night. There’s also a more personal event, The Coming Out Monologues. These are great places to learn more about the community without being too involved, especially if you’re shy.
4. Friends: One of the best things about joining groups at college is all the friends you’ll make. When people come together that are all interested or even passionate about something, they easily get to know each other. Most people are going through the same things, or just looking for friends, which is great.
5. Internships/Scholarships: Something I recently learned is that the LGBTQ Center is also good for getting students internships and scholarships. Just like other organizations, many times these centers need workers too. Work study jobs may also be available to take the place of your job as a tour guide last semester.
6. Allies: Don’t think the LGBTQ Center is just for students of those labels. Just like any organization, it’s open to anyone on campus.
There are also workshops that can help the straight community too, called ally-training. This teaches people to help the LGBTQ community and bring them together, and how to deal with situations they may be put in. At my school it is called the Safe Space Program, helping to end homophobia and other phobias students and faculty may have.
I hope this article helps you and inspires you to check out your campus’ LGBTQ Center in the coming semester.
Jessica Mahmoud is a Journalism major with a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Studies minor. Her pronouns are she, her, hers, herself. As an aspiring activist, she hopes to use writing as an outlet to educate others.
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