After rescheduling due to January snow, the GLBT Center celebrated its 10-year anniversary on Monday, February 12, 2018 in the Talley Student Union Ballroom. Over 150 students, alumni, staff, faculty and administrators came to celebrate this historic achievement. The event featured commemorative speeches from the former and current GLBT Center directors, the Campus Community Centers senior director, an alumna who was part of the GLBT Advisory Board for the creation of the center, current students involved with the GLBT Center and a current GLBT Advocate Program member. Reggie Barnes, senior director of the Campus Community Centers, commented, “It is evident from the number of students and alumni present in this room that the GLBT Center has served as a second home for many. For many who came from unsupportive local communities, the GLBT Center became a source of family. I am proud of the work of the GLBT Center and look forward to the achievements they will make in the next ten years.”
Throughout the evening, guests toured the GLBT Archive Exhibit on display in the Ballroom. One of the main collections in the exhibit was the to-scale floor plans of the four locations the GLBT Center has occupied across campus. When it opened in 2008, the first GLBT Center location was only 211 square feet. Now, in Suite 5230 of Talley Student Union, the GLBT Center has 1,600 square feet. Guests could see where desks, chairs and cabinets were in 2008 and experience sitting in the tiny office of Justine Hollingshead, the first director.
The second, larger piece of the GLBT Archive Exhibit was the timeline of student organization documents dating back to 1978. Other pieces of the collection included training materials for Project SAFE and Trans 101 workshops, coming out zines created by students to capture their definitions of their own identities,and event materials from past Pride Festivals and Transgender Day of Awareness events.
Graduate student Taylor Sprague commented, “The archives were phenomenally displayed. Reading letters and documents from the early days of GLBT representation at NC State made me feel like I was back in San Francisco walking through the GLBT History Museum.”
Bill Swallow, retired professor of statistics at NC State who was instrumental in the formation of the center, appeared to be very moved by the large gathering at the event. When asked if he enjoyed seeing the growth of the center over the last ten years, he replied, “Why yes, of course. When I was on campus, I was one of the very few people who were out. It’s nice to see so many take part in the community, but there are still many who can’t be here, and that’s why we need to keep going.”
Another important aspect of the exhibit was the photography collection. Here, guests were invited to help identify when, where and who were in photos from the GLBT Archive that lacked such information. This is a critical aspect of GLBT history on campus that would otherwise be lost, and many guests helped fill in the missing information.
Guests were also invited to leave their mark on history by participating in Wolf Tales, the NCSU Libraries Special Collections video history project. Wolf Tales has been capturing recordings from major GLBT Center events for a few years, and this partnership was a great opportunity to capture historical memories from alumni, current students, faculty, staff and community members. To view the ever-expanding collection, please visit go.ncsu.edu/wolftales.
Renee Wells, current director of the GLBT Center, closed the evening’s program with this promise:
“As we look to the future, the GLBT Center’s primary goal is to continue building capacity by engaging faculty, staff and students in thinking critically about the challenges we face, developing the skills to challenge the manifestations of ignorance and oppression we encounter, and to both see ourselves as advocates for change and to show up for others in the ways that we do the work of speaking out against the attitudes and actions that marginalize and exclude members of our community. That might sound like a lot, and in some ways it is, but what I can say after facilitating workshops for thousands of members of our campus community is that people here are willing; they just aren’t sure yet that they are able. Our promise to you is that we will keep these conversations going and provide all the resources we can so that we can collectively work to build a culture at NC State where there is a genuine individual and institutional commitment to equity, inclusion and social justice that is not only rhetorical but is manifested in the everyday actions we engage in. I will close by inviting all of you to be part of that building process with us and by thanking you for all the work you’ve done towards those goals thus far.”
- Read more about the history of the center.
- See photos from the 10th-anniversary celebration below.
Andy DeRoin is program coordinator in the GLBT Center.