By Samantha Fournier
When looking into the new Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center, one will see bookshelves stocked with LGBT issue-related books, an inspirational poster of an array of colored pencils and the headline teamwork, a rock garden that sits atop a coffee table and a folded yellow fleece blanket that rests on the small navy blue couch.
The center looks calm and welcoming: exactly as a safe space should.
Since the LGBT Center’s ribbon cutting ceremony with keynote speaker Cheryl Jacques on September 9, Sarah Rine, Assistant Director of Student Activities/Leadership Development, said that those involved in the opening have been focused on getting the word out that the center is open and that this safe space is here for students, as well as other members of the community.
“We’re really in the beginning stages of this and it is something that is going to grow,” Director of SA/LD, Scott Hazan, said about the center. “[With] people all coming together, it was probably two and a half years in the making,” Wayne “Otis” Mamed, director of the student center, said. He referred to the LGBT Center’s beginning when students and staff formed the One in Ten Committee to fight for LGBT rights on campus.
Rine and Hazan added that, although right now their focus is making the center known, an advisory board will be assembled to plan future events for the center. Rine and Hazan also hope to have safe zone training for the campus, as well as education through guest speakers.
Antonio Eason, head of the LGBT Center, is excited about the only CSU system LGBT Center having opened and has several events planned for next semester. Eason said that the center has an event planned with another organization on campus for Black History Month. There will be a campus reading from a book about LGBT in the hip hop community and a visit from the author.
Eason was not willing to give the details of the other event planned for Spring 2009 saying “[The] other impactful idea is in conjunction with another group on campus, I can’t say what it is, but it will be very powerful.”
Currently Eason is working to inform organizations of the center’s presence on campus.
“We are willing to work with any other clubs and organizations who are looking to expand their cultural [outlook],” Eason added about working with others in the CCSU community.
Eason explained that he is also looking for CCSU work-study students to staff the center. He is looking for workers who are “LGBT competent and friendly,” adding that they must be willing to get to know other people and “not just sit in the office.”
The LGBT Center is open when Eason is there, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Eason said that students have come up to the center to talk with him. He welcomes students and members of the community from all backgrounds who visit.
If students are looking for LGBT information, books of all kinds are available to be checked out and soon movies will be available at the center. The center’s door is always open to students who are just looking for an ear, or a place to hang out.