Untold Stories Guide

Pride Center & SOL: LGBTQ+ Multicultural Support Network

The first officially recognized gay student group at OSU was founded by about a dozen students in November of 1976. (1) It offered students an opportunity for support and a space for discussion in an era that was challenging societal norms, both locally and nationally. During the 1980s and 1990s, members of the LGBTQ+ community began to share their stories and request more university support. (2) Twenty-five years later, during the 2000- 2001 academic year, their activism led to the establishment of the Queer Resource Center (QRC). (3) The QRC, which changed its name to the Pride Center, existed primarily in a small space within the Women’s Center, while the planning committee worked to establish a cultural center like the others on campus. On October 11, 2004, the Pride Center opened its doors, and since that time it has provided a permanent physical location as a safe space for LGBTQ+ students. (4)

The Pride Center’s mission is to affirm and empower the identities of LGBTQ+ people by providing education, outreach, program support, visibility, and advocacy. It acts as a “safe space for all members of [the] community to explore aspects of sexual orientation and gender identity in an open and non-judgmental atmosphere.” (5) It achieves this through annual programming and outreach to involve the wider OSU community in LGBTQ+ issues, and to enrich the campus LGBTQ+ community. Activities include Queer History Month in October, Pride Week in May, the popular fall and spring drag shows, and collaboration with the LGBTQ+ student group Rainbow Continuum to co-sponsor the Lavender Graduation, a commencement ceremony celebrating LGBTQ+ students who have graduated and overcome the barriers faced as a minority group. In addition to hosting events, the Center provides a comfortable space for students to gather and relax, as well as trained staff to answer questions and provide support. It also houses computers for printing and research, a large library of LGBTQ+ literature and educational materials, tutoring, and a basement with a drag closet. (6)

In the early 2000s, around the same time as the Pride Center’s establishment and later grand opening, LGBTQ+ students of color and their allies began having conversations about their need for support and representation. As a self-identified Black gay male graduate student, Derron Rafiq Coles led those conversations. He found that the campus resources provided for students of color and LGBTQ+ students were not meeting the needs of his intersecting identities and recognized that this could be a problem for other LGBTQ+ students of color on campus. He formed the organization SOL: LGBTQ+ People of Color Support Network; and it was recognized by the university in the 2003-2004 academic year. (7) SOL’s mission is to improve the climate of OSU for LGBTQ+ people of color through collaboration with the cultural centers and other campus organizations to create spaces for students at the intersections of identity, in order to make them feel as welcome as possible in multiple spaces. Currently, SOL employs a few paid staff and coordinates events, programs, and workshops in collaboration with various groups to provide support for LGBTQ+ students of color. (8)

Both the Pride Center and SOL strive to create communities where LGBTQ+ students feel welcome and safe on campus, as well as to help them find a sense of community and connection to the university. Upon reflection of her first impression of the LGBTQ+ community, Stina Goetter, the Co-Director for the Rainbow Continuum for the 2013-2014 school year stated:
 

Coming to OSU, one of my main goals was to...meet the queer community...I came
here and I expected to find a couple people...and I was surprised to find that there
was...a place I could go and be myself and be surrounded by people that I could call
my people, that there was a queer community here just waiting for me. (9)


Photos and Sources Cited

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  1. QRC Approval, 2001
  2. Pride Center Building
  3. SOL Collection of Pins Photograph