The Pride Center, Safer and Cross Cultural Center collaborated to organize more than 30 events in April for Pride Month. Amidst the annual celebration of the LGBTQIA community at Cal Poly and in light of National LGBT , the Pride Center took the month of April to highlight several resources available to students and allies of the LGBTQIA community.
The Pride Center
Software engineering sophomore Ty Foster found joy in the Peer Resources in Student Mentoring (PRISM) program as a mentor. The PRISM program pairs LGBTQIA students and allies with mentees to assist them in connecting with the queer community and offer them guidance with queer-related issues. Foster is also involved with the Pride Center, stating that it serves as both a social and study space.
“The Pride Center is really what gave me a sense of community and belonging here,” Foster said.
Located in the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU), the Pride Center is filled with computers, printers and literature that offer perspective on the LGBT experience. Its mission statement reads:
“The Pride Center supports and advocates for the unique academic and social needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and pansexual (LGBTQIAP) students to promote personal growth and success. We empower and retain LGBTQIAP and allied communities on campus by cultivating a culture of care and providing a welcoming and inclusive spaces for all members of campus to explore issues related to sexual and gender identity.”
During the academic year, the Pride Center is staffed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. But the room is open whenever the UU is open.
“I don’t know anyone who has walked through this door and not made a friend somehow and felt connected to the people in this room,” Foster said.
Cal Poly’s Drag Club
Foster, also the treasurer of the Cal Poly Drag Club, manages finances and cooperates with the board to plan events and facilitate drag shows. The drag club was founded this year and plans on hosting drag shows each year, as well as holding other events such as clothing swaps and makeup and choreography workshops.
“Our goal as a club is to educate people about drag, help people who want to do drag learn how to and put on drag shows,” Foster said.
Foster urged students who are interested in drag to try it out regardless of their level of experience. The most recent drag show was May 12 at 8 p.m. in the UU Plaza.
Cal Poly’s first drag show was hosted by the Queer Student Union (QSU) in 2015. QSU serves as a resource to students of the LGBTQIA community as well. It aims to improve Cal Poly’s campus climate for queer students through community building, activism and social networking.
Another resource available at Cal Poly is the club created for and by Queer Trans Identifying People of Color, known as QTPOC. This club spurred from the dialogue group hosted by the Pride Center when students decided they wanted to create another opportunity to come together. Currently, QTPOC members host a dialogue group called “Convos for QTPOC.”
“The difference is ‘Convos for QTPOC’ is more exclusive for people who identify as either queer and/or trans and a person of color while the club is more open, we’ll accept anyone,” QTPOC social coordinator Louel Ibe said.
Ibe stressed how QTPOC and the Pride Center have helped him find his niche at Cal Poly.
“When I went to the Pride Center I got immediately put into the world of the queer identities here at Cal Poly, which helped out a lot and helped me feel more welcome as a first year,” Ibe said.
The QTPOC dialogue group serves as a space for participants to explore topics about identity and make connections with other students.
Other dialogue groups that exist on campus include the Queer Dialogues, Gender Variant Dialogues and Gender Non-Conforming Dialogues.
Gender-inclusive housing is offered on campus as another resource for members of the LGBTQIA, gender and sexual diversity and ally communities. It is offered in Poly Canyon Village, Cerro Vista and Yosemite Hall (tower six).
“In general, I found it to be really accepting because people who opt into it are tolerant and accepting of the LGBTQ[IA] community,” kinesiology freshman and Yosemite resident Garrett Brisbane said.
According to Brisbane, people in his tower are not hesitant to express themselves and that makes him comfortable in being himself.
“It’s super positive. Honestly I love being there, it’s a really nice place to come home to just because all the people are so inviting and welcoming,” biomedical engineering freshman and Yosemite resident Esther Park said.
Both Brisbane and Park highlighted how personable and helpful their resident adviser is, underlining that she helped residents become more aware about issues in the LGBTQIA community and has been an “open book.” Students can indicate their preference to live in gender-inclusive housing on their housing application. If a student wishes to switch into gender-inclusive housing during the school year, it is possible if they follow room-change procedures.