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The OU LGBT Center is celebrating its 20th anniversary with events throughout the year. (Provided via the LGBT Center)

Ohio University’s LGBT Center celebrates 20th ‘Rainbowversary’

To Jeremy Sierra, a graduate student studying critical studies and education, the students who are part of the Ohio University LGBT Center have become more diverse and intersectional in recent years.

“Whenever I would stop by the center my freshman year, there would generally be many gay white men, but now I’m seeing more transgender people and people of color,” Sierra said. “In the past, I think people were more worried to come because they didn’t see themselves being represented, but now they do and I’m very excited about it.”

To celebrate the growing presence of LGBT-identifying people at OU and its 20th anniversary (or “rainbowversary”), the center plans to host many events throughout the fall and spring.

delfin bautista, director of the LGBT Center, is still in the process of figuring out all the events the center will hold, but one of the bigger occasions will take place during OU’s Homecoming weekend. As of now, there will be two events happening during that weekend.

“We’re planning on having a lunch discussion featuring my predecessors Jenny Hall-Jones and Laura Harrison, as well as former Director Mickey Hart where they will all share their experiences from back in the day,” bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, said. “They’re creating videos that will capture their experiences that we can keep and archive as well.”

The other event that will be going on will be a drag show, held in partnership with the OU Alumni Association. The drag show will be held in Baker Theatre the Friday night of Homecoming weekend, but no further plans have been made.

“We have no idea what it’s going to look like yet, but we thought it would be something different and fun to do,” bautista said.

Later in the year, Alden Library will also be helping the LGBT Center create displays of the center’s history through photos and narratives that they are wanting to display all around campus.

With the growing number of members the LGBT Center has seen in the past 20 years, bautista has seen an increase in awareness of LGBT-identifying people on campus and in Athens as a whole.

“More folks are becoming aware of who we are and what we’re here for,” bautista said. “There has been a higher demand for SafeZone training, guest lecturing and class involvement on different levels in the past few years.”

Students who are part of the LGBT Center used to appear in classrooms occasionally, but now they find themselves in the classroom on a weekly basis.

“Many times students share their own experiences, and it kind of drives home differently when their own stories are told,” bautista said. “Things click a little more, and there’s a noticeable shift in the way people engage with the story.”

Utilizing social media, LGBT Center staff and students have made more frequent appearances in classrooms talking about their experiences or specific subjects set out by the professor.

“Anything we find interesting or is relative to the LGBT or intersectional community, we post on our sites,” Darragh Liaskos, the communications coordinator for the LGBT Center and a senior studying media and social change, said. “Through our media, we’ve been asked to hold Speakouts, which is just a panel of students that go to a classroom and talk about their stories.”

Although Liaskos is an employee of the LGBT Center, she has still been given an experience that makes her job one of her favorite things she does at OU.

“Being a part of the LGBT Center has been one of my favorite experiences at OU,” Liaskos said. “It’s not only a safe space, but it’s also so welcoming here, which is definitely refreshing.”


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