Last Thursday, I attended the LGBT Resource Center’s event, “Thought Provoking Thursdays.” The topic for the evening was “‘Isms’ in the Queer Community,” and the discussion consisted of participants sharing their personal experiences with these ‘isms’ in their lives.
One of the ‘isms’ encountered during the night was professionalism, and specifically, how far a person should be willing to sacrifice their personal identity for the sake of professionalism. One aspect I admired about the dialogue was that whether a person supported or disagreed with the sacrifice of personal identity in the work-place, their opinion was allowed to be voiced, and nobody directly opposed another person’s outlook during the conversation. The result of this amiability was an open and comfortable environment, where everybody felt at ease sharing their view on the ‘ism’ being examined. “Thought Provoking Thursdays” proved to be an encouraging setting for the attendees to share what was on their minds.
On Friday, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Genice Sarcedo, the Program Coordinator for the LGBT Resource Center here at UC Irvine. We talked about the goal of “Thought Provoking Thursdays,” as well as the services that the center provides for the students and the queer community of UCI.
“We developed Thought Provoking Thursdays because we had a need, or a demand, of people who were saying we weren’t creating enough critical dialogue space, or enough opportunity for people to talk about important issues within the queer community, and affecting the queer community,” Sarcedo said. “So we created Thought Provoking Thursdays as sort of a forum, or a space to have those dialogues that talk about the intersection of identity, and that talk about what can be really difficult conversations to have.”
The next installment of “Thought Provoking Thursdays” will take place November 15 at 7 p.m. in the Kaleidoscope House of Arroyo Vista as part of the LGBT Resource Center’s “TransAction Week.” The topic for the night will be “Ginger My Gender,” it will include a discussion of gender, as well as the baking of gingerbread people. If you have something to say and would like to be part of a welcoming discussion, I strongly encourage you to attend.
“I think it offers them [students] an opportunity to have their voice heard,” Sarcedo said of the program. “Often times for the LGBT community they’re often silent, so then it becomes important to have their opinions, thoughts, feelings expressed. And a lot of times, particularly in Orange County where it’s a very conservative environment, and UCI is really like a blue dot in a red county, it gives students the opportunity to voice opinions that might differ greatly from the surrounding community. Or from even their peers, their friends, and it’s a safe space where they can talk about things openly and freely, and get honest feedback or honest reactions from people, as opposed to getting into debates or getting into heated discussions, they can just have conversations around some pretty heavy topics.”
Another way to participate in the UCI LGBT community is attending the “Brown Bag Lunch” which takes place every Wednesday from 12-1 p.m. in the LGBT Resource Center. This is a similar space, but unlike “Thought Provoking Thursdays,” the lunches don’t have set themes or conversations. These lunches are open to all members of the campus community, whereas “Thought Provoking Thursdays” are preserved as only a student space.
The LGBT Resource Center would also like to tell the campus community that they are not just an LGBT space and that you don’t have to be queer to go there. They are open to anyone regardless of how a person identifies their sexuality or gender. People can go to the center, hang out, use their resources, watch a DVD, take a nap, heat up their lunch and have a conversation because the space is open to anyone. Sarcedo would also like to tell members of the UCI LGBT community that they do not have to tolerate discrimination or prejudices that are exercised against them.
“In terms of messages for the queer community, sort of aside from the campus community, we’re as a community, we underreport when you know, negative things happen to us, in terms of hate incidences and hate crimes, because we’ve been conditioned from a young age to not say anything. Because a lot of times if you got bullied in elementary school a teacher knew, or a principal knew and didn’t do anything, and that continued throughout your life so by the time you get to college and someone calls you a fag on Ring Road, you’re like ‘Oh, well that always happens, it’s not that big a deal.’ So there’s a larger perception that everything is great for the LGBT community because we don’t report things that happen, so if things are happening on campus that are homophobic, trans-phobic, like anti-LGBT, I really encourage students to report it to either us here at the center or through, the UC has a biased-incident reporting system, to report it so that way we can actually see what’s happening on our campus and have a better idea of the true campus community, or campus climate for queer students, as opposed to this notion that everything is fine, because no one’s reporting stuff that happened,” Sarcedo said.
“Thought Provoking Thursdays” was a very educating and enjoyable event. I learned a lot in a small amount of time and experienced the hospitable ambience that the LGBT Resource Center strives to create. If you would like to get involved within the LGBT community or simply have educated discussions with welcoming individuals, I urge you to attend “Thought Provoking Thursdays,” the “Brown Bag Lunch” or go into the center and involve yourself. Take part in something, make an effort, and use your time Anteaters. Above all, treat others the way you want to be treated. I’m out. ZOT!