Auraria’s LGBTQ Center Turns 25

The Auraria LGBTQ Resource Center has been a safe space for over two decades. Photo: Alex South· The Sentry

The Auraria LGBTQ Resource Center has been a safe space for over two decades.
Photo: Alex South· The Sentry
A silver soiree for a silver birthday

Auraria’s LGBTQ Student Resource Center turned 25 this month, and they celebrated the best way they know how: with an open-for-all silver soiree. Since its consummation as Colorado’s first on-campus LGBTQ support center in 1993, the office has become a staple of the tri-college community. 

On Nov. 3, 1992, Colorado state legislature passed Amendment 2, a bill designed to prohibit state and local governments from protecting the rights of citizens who identified as a sexual orientation other than heterosexual. Those opposed to the bill gave Colorado the nickname “The Hate State,” while sparking controversy and debate all over the country. Eventually, in 1996, the bill was tried and overturned in the Supreme Court. But the bill energized the LGBTQ community, eventually leading to the creation of the Auraria LGBTQ Student Resource Center in a 1992 proposal. 

The center has grown and continued its quest for equality and justice within the LGBTQ community, finding its place in queer proms, high school and middle school outreach, and the upcoming International Queer Biannual, an arts and education festival to be held June 2019.

It also provides resources for students, such as therapists, STD testing, suicide prevention, violence prevention, and civil rights advocacy. 

By extending its services beyond the boundaries of its Tivoli office, with members doing classroom presentations and professor trainings, the office leaves no stone unturned in helping to make Auraria campus a safe space for people of all orientations.

“I didn’t have an outlet for social interaction,” senior Dylan Pillsbury, film and TV major, said. “I was floundering my first year, and then I came here, and I finally made friends.”

But some still believe tolerance for the LGBTQ community still has a long way to go. “Just because you change something legislatively doesn’t necessarily change people’s hearts and minds,”  Jeff Schweinfest, retired CU Denver Academic Advisor and one of the members of the planning committee for the Sept. 13 bash, said. “There’s always going to be hate; there’s always going to be a need for outreach and education.” 

When asked about the next 25 years, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center Steve Willich said, “My ultimate goal is to work myself out of a job. If we didn’t have to have to talk about LGBTQ identities as different than any other identity, that would be ideal. If we truly viewed each other as equal instead of different, I think we would be better off. We shouldn’t have to have resources to support students who are oppressed.” 

The LGBTQ Center’s 25th anniversary party was hosted in the Tivoli Commons on Sept. 13. It was hosted by legendary, local drag queen Dixie Krystal. Activities included an archive exhibit, slideshows, cocktails and mocktails, and a gender reveal party for the new gender-neutral bathroom in the Tivoli. 

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