Right Place, Right Time For CenterPublished: June 16, 2014
With June recognized as LGBT Pride Month and Long Beach named the fifth most LGBT-friendly city in the nation by the consumer analysis firm NerdWallet—not to mention Long Beach score of a perfect 100 in last year’s Human Rights Campaign Municipality Equality Index—CSULB’s LGBT Student Resources Center is in the right place at the right time.
Mary Beth Perdue, the LGBT Student Resource Center’s coordinator, believes one reason for the center’s success is its support from the campus administration.
“While there are different cultural centers located all in the same building, we are the only one that gets financial funding and support,” she explained. “But what really makes this space a campus resource is its overall presence. It’s a place where students can go privately. My favorite aspects of my job are the e-mails I receive from students going through their own journeys with their gender identities, sexual identities and whatever else they may be experiencing. The LGBT Student Resource Center is a safe place to do that.”
The center helps in any way it can, from referring students to the Counseling and Psychological Services office or to local LGBT centers closer to where they live. “Sometimes we work with other student organizations such as Queers and Allies, Project Choice and Choice USA,” she said.
The center is a great place for students to learn more about themselves on many levels.
“We want students to feel free to come see us or to access such groups as Queers and Allies which has replaced the Gay and Straight Alliance,” said Perdue. “If a student is interested in maybe joining a fraternity, I tell them about DLP, the progressive male fraternity on campus. Over time, it becomes visible that these students’ lives become different and change, all for the better. It makes me so happy to know that there are people who are capable of putting themselves out there and I think that’s awesome.”
According to Perdue, the campus LGBT community is welcoming. “For me, my campus community is queer,” she said. “I have worked personally with students who are closeted for various reasons including family and culture. They don’t know where to go. Some believe that, when you say LGBT, that the acronym is the same for all individuals across the board. That is why the word ‘queer’ is so awesome. It intersects with so many different groups and identities.”
Perdue believes the LGBT Student Resource Center has a mission and part of that is to have as much fun as possible, while still maintaining a consciousness.
“I want the campus to see this center as a safe and welcoming place,” she said. “If there are verbal disagreements, we direct them outside or work through them collectively. People are welcome to take a break between classes or to do their homework. I want this center to be a place where students can feel unconditional love. There are members of the LGBT community here who may have never felt unconditional love or don’t have a space where they can be themselves. I would hope this center enables that for people. After all, finding a space where you can be yourself is what university life is all about.”
The future of the center is in more support, Perdue believes. “There are fully funded LGBT centers at other campuses,” she said. “This shows me that, if other CSU LGBT centers are funded and staffed, then there is hope for our center.”
Perdue encourages the CSULB community to visit and find out more about the LGBT Student Resource Center.
“Whether they are faculty members or students, I hope they come to the center and see it for themselves,” she said. “Questions about the center can be emailed directly to me at Lgbtrc@csulb.edu. We want people to know we are here. The more people we can get to come, the better it is.”