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Saturday, March 2, 2024

LGBTQIA Resource Center celebrates 20th anniversary

On May 7, marking the 20th anniversary celebration, hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, administration and members of the Davis community gathered together in the LGBTQIA Resource Center to reflect upon its growth and development. Over the past two decades, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA) Resource Center has flourished significantly in its mission to be a vital resource on campus. “When I learned that this year marked the 20th anniversary, I was excited to celebrate it because I thought it could generate a beautiful opportunity to reflect on our story, have inter-generational dialogue about the struggles and joys of the LGBTQIA community, and also to explore a vision of what we want the center to develop into in the coming years,” Elizabeth Cote, interim director of LGBTQIA, said. Leading into the opening of the celebration, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Adela de la Torre presented a speech highlighting the several successes and achievements of the LGBTQIA Resource Center. The celebration also featured stories, music, dance, poetry performances and a special video project composed of several interviews from the campus community, illustrating the overall significance of the LGBTQIA Resource Center. “It is wild to think that for some first year students, the center has been in existence for their entire lives,” Cote said. “For me, hearing from previous generations about their experiences keeps me connected to a sense of belonging and a sense of gratitude.” The history of the center was on display in multiple photographs lining the walls, and the staff members who founded the center in 1994 had the opportunity to reflect upon their experiences as they shared their own personal stories with the audience. “Before, the center was really small,” said Hazel Quintanilla, a Student Community intern and a fourth-year human development major, pointing to the picture of the past LGBTQIA Resource Center on the wall. “And now, it is twice the size and more people are coming in here.” Quintanilla believes that the center serves as a resource for everyone, regardless of whether they identify as LGBTQIA or not. “Our allies have grown. It just shows that we are here and that our support is growing, and so is our center and the members of it,” Quintanilla said. “As an intern, I do feel like I have a home on campus. This is nice, especially because I commute.” Like Quintanilla, Giovani Lopez, a Student Community intern and a fourth-year psychology major who served on the 20th anniversary Celebration Committee, decided to become an intern after volunteering at the center. “In reality, one of the biggest reasons why I came to Davis was because of the center. Although I entered UC Davis as a biological sciences major, I went to the Pride Welcome Week my freshman year and just wanted to become a part of the center,” Lopez said. Upon taking several women and gender studies courses, Lopez’s interest in becoming involved in the LGBTQIA community sparked as well. For second-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major and volunteer, Jonathon Truong, the LGBTQIA Resource Center has also evolved into an integral component of his experience at UC Davis. “I started [volunteering] this year in Fall Quarter and I honestly feel like I have a home on campus,” Truong said. Along with the comfort and sense of family at the center, several volunteers explained that they have made lifelong friendships through continuous volunteering. Although Olivia Rivett, a third-year biological sciences major, initially felt intimidated entering the center during her first academic year, she decided to come in during the summer after. “People were so friendly and told me I could volunteer and I thought it was a good idea,” Rivett said. “I started volunteering my sophomore year and every quarter I have met new people and my group of friends has really grown. To be honest, I am friends with half the people here right now.” Rivett stated that she is really looking forward to seeing everyone’s faces at the event because conflicting and busy quarter schedules often hinder her from spending time with those involved in the center. Due to her positive experience, Rivett eventually recommended volunteering to her friend, Cynthia Terry, a fourth-year biological sciences major. Terry, who currently works as a volunteer, explained that she has formed and developed several friendships during the course of her experience as well. “It is a celebration of having the space here on campus and that is one of the main reasons why I came to this campus,” Lopez said. “It is a home.” LUJAIN AL-SALEH can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

Photo by Katie Lin

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