UCI Is Coming Out
Following the announcement about new LGBT housing for incoming first-years in 2010, UCI’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center has taken the next step in promoting LGBT awareness by launching an “Outlist.” This list consists of students, faculty and staff who openly support the LGBT community. However, the Outlist also arrives at the heels of a more tragic affair: the attack on a transgender student in CSU Long Beach’s bathroom.
While some feel that this assault foreshadows future anti-LGBT hate crimes, the UCI LGBT Center’s employees are not worried about the publicity of the Outlist.
“Our goal is to create a sense of visibility,” said LGBT Program Coordinator Genice Sarcedo.
Instrumental to that visibility is the unique aspect of this Outlist in comparison with other colleges — UCI’s LGBT Center asks for all students that support the cause to add their names, whether or not they are actually a part of the LGBT community.
“We want to blur the lines [between,” Sarcedo said.
This approach had a promising outcome with over 250 students, faculty and staff demonstrating their support as friends of the LGBT community. Sarcedo is hopeful that keeping the list open to the general public will actually increase the safety of its members because while other colleges might compile a “list of targets,” UCI is furthering visibility of the network of allies.
Sarcedo added that while some supporters wanted to be expressly noted as an ally but not a member of the LGBT community, the request was denied.
“We’re not going to start labeling people,” Sarcedo said. “People should apply labels to themselves, not others.”
For humanities undergraduate counselor Lisa Payne-Miller, the decision to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBT community was an easy one.
“I feel a responsibility to be visibly supportive of the LGBT community so that students seeking academic advice know without a doubt it is safe to reveal issues surrounding gender identity,” Payne-Miller said.
“I also coordinate a mentor program for freshmen, and since the first year of college is a prime time for coming – or becoming – more openly “out” I ask the upper-division mentors in the program to learn about the services offered by the LGBT Resource Center, and encourage them to take part in SafeZone training,” Payne-Miller said. “In order to ask this of them, I need to be ‘out.’”
Payne-Miller uses the Outlist as a forum to display her and her department’s acceptance of the LGBT community. Aside from demonstrating her alliance as a counselor figure, Payne-Miller’s alliance hits even closer to home.
“Several members of my immediate and extended family identify as lesbian, gay and/or gender-queer,” Payne-Miller said. “For them, and because of them, I need to be an ever better and more visible ally.”
The 2010 Outlist is UCI’s first in six years. The project was conceived in 1995 and ran until 2004 when lack of funds forced it into hiatus. Because of a recent UC-wide mental health funding bonus, the LGBT Center was able to revive the Outlist. However, the Center is not hopeful about similar funding for future years.