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Celebrating their first full year as the Sexuality & Gender Education Program Manager of the LGBTQ Resource Center, Juliann Losey chats with Cooglife about their experiences with students and the abundance of resources provided by the center.

Cooglife: Tell me about the LGBTQ+ Resource Center’s mission on campus.

Losey: Our official mission is: ‘To cultivate safe spaces on campus and within our Center’s programs, empowering LGBTQ students to develop their authentic identity, and become proud, successful, engaged members of the UH community.’ We do this by fostering an environment in the Resource Center space to help students find a place to be affirmed and to build community with each other. We also have a number of ongoing programs that support our mission, including Rainbow Chats, our Peer Mentoring program, and SAGA Squad.

Cooglife: What are some of your resources that you provide to students on campus?

Losey: At the center, we have a lending library, computers available for student use, and personal hygiene items available, such as sanitary napkins, condoms, and other things that people can access as needed. Additionally, our staff stay up to date on resources available on campus and beyond to help connect students with other things they may need

Cooglife: What do students gain from coming into the center versus checking out resources online?

Losey: We have lots of fantastic things on our website, from resources to allies, to the process for changing your name on you(r) Cougar Card, and beyond. It can be a good starting place for folks who are wanting to get information quickly. We also have a Discord server where student(s) socialize virtually.

In the center, though, there are opportunities to have incidental connections with our staff and others in the UH community. We share space with the Women & Gender Resource Center, and so there is almost always something going on. Additionally, the LGBTQ Resource Center space aims to very welcoming, and is a space that students can use to hang out, eat, study and/or attend class virtually, and I think there is something powerful to the experience of ‘vibing’ (as one of our student staff members says) in an affirming environment.”

Cooglife: Is the resource center a queer only space or can anybody visit?

Losey: Our space is open to all in the UH community! We work hard to make the LGBTQ Resource Center welcoming and inclusive. We also have materials available for individuals who are interested in learning more ways to be allies to the LGBTQ Community.

Cooglife: How does the resource center keep up with the changing landscape of LGBTQ+ issues and rights?

Losey: The focus of the LGBTQ Resource Center is to serve UH students, and bring the issues that students share with us to light. The founding director, Lorraina Schroeder, who recently retired in December, started a fantastic legacy of listening to students’ needs and advocating for those needs persistently, and our staff is working hard to continue those efforts.

Cooglife: Tell me about how the resource center builds a community within the office and around campus.

Losey: Our peer mentor program connects students to peers who have been at UH a little bit longer, and the mentors help connect the mentees to different parts of the UH community, depending on their shared interests. Our Rainbow Chats create regular spaces for students to gather based on shared identity, including our LGBTQ People of Color Rainbow Chats, our Bi/Pan Rainbow Chats, and our Trans/NonBinary Rainbow Chats, which give students a chance to build community and engage in discussion. SAGA Squad and GLOBAL are two ways that we connect with student leadership, and support the events and/or vision for things that the student leaders in these organization(s) come up with. 

Lastly, we have a pretty active Discord, where students connect and communicate regularly, from lighter socializing (in the “Lounge”) or sometimes processing things (in our “Tougher Topics” channel).

Cooglife: What do students say about how the resource center has helped them on campus?

Losey: While I don’t have any quotes I can share that relate directly to this question, I think a number of our students would point to the friends that they have made at the Resource Center or events we’ve facilitated as a major way that we have contributed to their lives. We also work closely with the LGBTQ Alumni Association who have an Emergency Fund, and so when students have ended up in some emergency situations, we have been able to directly advocate on their behalf.

Cooglife: How does the center focus on fostering a safe and fun environment?

Losey: Our staff are welcoming and attentive all of the time. We also occasionally do ‘Pop Up Meet & Greets’ when we can tell there are a number of people in the center who want to meet each other… It’s kind of a quick ice breaker to get the conversation started.

Cooglife: How has COVID-19 and the pandemic as a whole impacted the center and the students who rely on it?

Losey: I started my role at UH in January of 2021, and we had only a few students in the Resource Center consistently. I was informed that prior to the pandemic, the Center would be bustling, busy, and full of life, and so with everyone being away from campus, there were some challenges in building community. Our student staff are incredibly innovative though, and did much to make the Discord server lively, including creating virtual events on Discord and Facebook live. 

We did a number of our trainings and workshops virtually, using as much interactive content as possible, so as to minimize the ‘Zoom fatigue’. We even hosted Lavender Graduation virtually in May of 2021, and I’m honestly proud to say that it was downright fun, although nothing can compare to Lav Grad in-person.

Cooglife: What are resources you wish students knew more about?
Losey: The LGBTQ Resource Center works with other departments who wish to participate on something called Pride Partners, where essentially, the department increases the ally behaviors within the department’s operations, curriculum, and/or programming. We are hoping to get more departments on campus to participate in the Pride Partners program, and student advocacy for that can help make that happen. The more departments that participate, the more LGBTQ inclusive resources there are for students across campus.

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