#GivingPack means GLBT Center Community-Building

Ray Ward

Senior Ray Ward (he/they) grew up in Apex, NC, but wasn’t planning on attending NC State. Our beautiful historic red-brick campus and the impressive, top-notch programs won them and their family over, and Ward started at NC State in 2018. “I wound up here and I’m glad I did. I’m a double major in sociology and women, gender, and sexuality studies and I have a minor in English because it required just one more class,” they said.

After being out in high school and seeing the transformative potential of a LGBTQIA+ community, Ward made sure to connect with the GLBT Center at New Student Orientation. There, they learned about the GLBT Symposium, a half-day welcome and community-building experience designed to provide incoming students with information about the GLBT Center, annual events and ways to get involved.

“By the time I got to college, I already knew that I was bi, so I knew I wanted to engage in queer spaces to be able to have that community. I knew that was where I wanted to be. Symposium is cool because you get to learn about all different clubs. I remember there were lots of activities that helped you get to know people.”

Like many students, Ward’s involvement with the GLBT Center has ebbed and flowed, depending on what they needed throughout the years. “Freshman year I went to Bi/Pan. I didn’t really go to the GLBT Center all that much freshman year. My friend groups have really changed over time, and now I’ve been spending more time in the center.” The club, Bi/Pan @ NCSU offered them a chance to find community with other students who identify along the bi/pan sexual or romantic spectra and their allies. When they did study in the GLBT Center, there was always something new going on.

“Usually there’s interesting conversations, if you want it, happening in the center. It’s nice because it’s a place to go that’s outside of just a place in Talley or the library. It’s a smaller space, so it’s more of a space where I can have familiar faces I see every day.  It gives you a place to go to, and that’s where you reside, as opposed to doing work in the library or other large spaces on campus.”

After four years of involvement with the GLBT Center and being a member of multiple student organizations, Ward is the outgoing president of Bi/Pan. Being on the executive board, they get to interface with Colorguard, a new staff-facilitated space for student organization leaders to collaborate around LGBTQIA+ issues and topics. In this leadership position, they help guide new students to the GLBT Center to meet the staff, browse the lending library, and study with peers. Ward says, “There is a place and people who are willing to help,” not just around gender and sexuality, but also general issues commonly faced by college students. “It makes college easier — even if it’s not LGBTQIA+ related — I’ve got someone I can turn to for support who can help me understand who to talk to and where to go and how to do it.”

Ward has also seen the programming of the GLBT Center change over time to become more in-house and really connect those who use the space regularly. “The socials have been really nice. Queer Quorum is also pretty cool, and I’ve really liked that when I’ve been able to come.”

Give to the GLBT Center

Day of Giving

Ray’s biggest wish for the GLBT Center is a bigger and better space. After moving back into Talley Student Union after the 2015 renovation, the physical space of the center has been brimming with foot traffic. With the GLBT Center, they had “the ability to be more creative, the ability to be more impulsive and have less constraints. The center can do stuff, but it can only do so much because it only has so much money.”

Every gift tells a story. Make the GLBT Center part of your story of affirmation, community and solidarity on Day of Giving.

You can help by giving to the two funds that support the GLBT Center. The Spitz Dream Fund provides emergency aid to GLBT-identified students and can be used toward expenses such as, but not limited to, health insurance, tuition, transportation, food and housing. The GLBT Center Fund helps us provide unique leadership development opportunities, events and programs for GLBT students and their allies.

Andy DeRoin is assistant director of the GLBT Center.