Skip to main content

GLBT Center Reflects and Looks Ahead on 15th Anniversary

Members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community will come together on Tuesday, Jan. 31, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the GLBT Center. The reception and afterparty, “Our Journey Forward,” is a celebration of identity, strength and community. In commemoration of this historic milestone, the center will unveil its new name at the reception. Anniversary celebrations begin the week prior with a student event on Monday, Jan. 23.

“‘Our Journey Forward’ is the way we connect, create and grow,” says Charla Blumell, director of the GLBT Center. “It is one way for us to visualize the best version of ourselves as a campus community. As we move forward, we deserve love, joy, laughter and peace. I believe we can and will get there together.”

The Center Today

On Jan. 23, 2008, the GLBT Center opened a new office and officially became a department under the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. The center provides resources and programming to raise awareness, promote respect and create a culture of equity, inclusion and social justice for LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty on campus.

In the GLBT Center, a corner is set up with two large chairs and a gray couch.
In the GLBT Center, a ten person table sits in front of a wall of windows.
In the GLBT Center, several books are resting on a wooden coffee table in front of a gray couch with four colorful cushions.

The center sponsors annual events to promote the well-being, safety and visibility of LGBTQ+ students on campus, such as the GLBT Symposium, Transgender Awareness Week, Lavender Graduation and Pride Walk. The GLBT Center launched NC State’s Pride Walk tradition as a way for the campus community to celebrate the history of Pride and honor important figures in LGBTQ+ history.

The GLBT Center’s impact is felt by every student who walks through the center’s door or attends a sponsored event on campus. As alumnus Rajiv L. Soni Jr. ’16 said at the center’s 10th anniversary celebration, “It’s more than just an advocacy organization. I think it was someplace that really shaped me.”

History of the Center

Campus discussions about a GLBT Center at NC State began in the early 2000s. Following a general campuswide diversity survey, the University Diversity Advisory Committee formed a subcommittee to develop recommendations for improving the campus climate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, staff and faculty. Student Government held a town-hall-style forum on the proposed center in 2006.

The proposal for a new center was the direct result of efforts by the GLBT Diversity Subcommittee of the University Diversity Advisory Committee. Years of research and discussion culminated in the establishment of the GLBT Center, making NC State only the second university in the University of North Carolina System to open a center for the LGBTQ+ community.

The center traces its roots back to the first gay student organizations on campus. Students formed the Gay and Lesbian Christian Alliance (GLCA) on Dec. 14, 1978. Pastor Willie White, a local minister who started a weekly discussion group for gay and lesbian NC State students in 1978, advised the GLCA. The group organized awareness events such as Blue Jeans Day, which encouraged students on campus to wear jeans on a particular day to communicate their support of gay rights.

Looking to the Future

What does the future hold for the GLBT Center and the people it serves? When alumnus Edward Smith ’09 looked back on the center’s history, he answered the question this way: “Be proud of who you are. Be proud of the work you’ve been doing. And be proud of the work you will do in the future.”

This post was originally published in NC State News.