On Friday the college's new LGBTQ Resource Library and Lounge opens, marking the culmination of a yearlong effort by a Student Government Association task force and staff members in the Dean of Students and Residence Life offices. The lounge, located on the ground floor of Belk Dormitory (where the Residence Life offices are), provides a physical space on campus that will serve as a place for LGBTQ research and resources, as well as a place for students to study and plan social gatherings.
"It provides LGBTQ students with an inherently ‘safe' space – one where they can be themselves, where they won't feel judged or ‘othered' in any way," Dylan Goodman '16 said. A gender and sexuality studies major, he serves as a Resident Advisor on one of the college's gender-neutral residence halls, is an LGBTQ mentor for first-year students, and participates as a panelist in campus Safe Space and Sexuality 101 training sessions. He also has been a strong advocate for creating such a space on campus.
The Residence Life Office contributed most of the infrastructure for the lounge – the space, furniture and signage – and the Dean of Students Office contributed money from its discretionary fund to build the library resource collection. As part of that process, Assistant Dean of Students Becca Taylor worked with college library staff to identify LGBTQ-centered resources that the library does not currently carry, but that would be useful and sought after by students.
"The resource library includes important and seminal texts on queer theory and queer identity – texts we don't have elsewhere," Taylor said. It also includes health-related resources, recreational and informational magazine subscriptions, and even popular TV shows and movies.
"It's important to be able to have books, movies and other informational resources that show there is more for LGBTQ people than what we tend to see in mainstream media," Goodman said. Often, LGBTQ individuals don't see themselves represented in the media in holistic, positive ways, he said. "We need to provide these resources that show LGBTQ people can live complex, beautiful lives – as much as anyone else."
When it opens, the space, nicknamed the "Lavender Lounge," will have nearly 200 resources in different media, and the collection will continue to grow in coming months and years, Taylor said.
"The library is small but robust," Taylor said, just like the lounge itself. While she would like to see the resource lounge move into a bigger space in the future, "it's a good start," she said. "It's important for students to have a designated space, with infrastructure and signage, in which they feel comfortable, and that they can use in whatever ways they need."
The lounge opening also coincides with national "LGBT History Month," celebrated this October.
Get a first look at the LGBTQ Resource Library and Lounge Friday, Oct. 17 from 2-5 p.m. The space, located in the Residence Life Office in Belk Dormitory, is accessible from the side of the building near Belk parking lot.