LGBTQIA Resource Center Opening
By Malissa Close
Anticipation filled the lobby of the third floor of the MLK building on April 2, 2012. The day finally arrived for the opening of the LGBTIA Resource Center. This resource center is the first of its kind on an HBCU campus.
As faculty, staff and students poured out of the elevator it becomes quite clear that more chairs are needed, and even with the extra chairs added there are still many people who had to stand through the opening ceremony.
The keynote speaker for this event was Donna Payne, associate director of diversity for the Human Rights Campaign. Payne has worked for 14 years with the HRC, an organization that works closely with civil rights organizations and leaders across the country to bring attention to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. Payne works directly with historically black colleges and universities’ programs supporting LGBT civil rights. The model for the resource center has been in place for 10 years.
During her remarks, Payne spoke of the bullying and beatings that some students have suffered on college campuses because of their sexual orientation. The injustice against this community is rampant, she said, and a safe space needs to be provided for anyone who is struggling with sexual identity issues. The Bowie State University resource center was created for that purpose, she said.
Payne charged Dr. Adrian Krishnasamy, director of the LGBTQIA, and those officers who hold positions with the resource center, to work to sustain the center in the years to come. “This center is your baby. It should be nurtured and cared for.
This safe space needs to be passed on,” Payne said. “I have seen a group start but then fold as the leader moves on. You must transfer leadership so the torch can be passed on.”
Payne encouraged the resource center officers to raised funds to maintain the initiative. “As you leave and move on remember to look back and support this center financially.”
The resource center is located on the third floor of the MLK building in conference room 301. The hours of operation are: Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The center offers a safe space; gay and lesbian literature, and information on HIV testing. This center is opened to all faculty, staff and students.