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The LGBT Resource Center kicked off their 20th anniversary year with a community celebration featuring a conversation with the center’s first student staff member. Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

A Colorful Affair to Mark a Milestone

UC San Diego’s LGBT Resource Center celebrates 20 years with series of events

It was a labor of love for Vanessa Teran. As an undergraduate at UC San Diego in the late 1990s, she was driven by a vision to create community for lesbian, gay and bisexual students at a time when a formal resource center did not yet exist. Together with a group of friends, she co-founded the student organization Queer People of Color (QPOC), where students could meet others who shared similar experiences.

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Shaun Travers and Toni Duran, a representative from Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, with the Legislative Proclamation honoring the 20th Anniversary of the UC San Diego LGBT Resource Center.

“There was no queer visibility whatsoever—we wanted to change that,” said Teran. “We were fortunate to have found each other, but we knew there were other people who didn’t have anyone. That’s really what drove us to start QPOC.”

After nearly a decade of advocacy on campus, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center was established in 1999, and Teran became its first student employee. She shared memories on Feb. 2 at a celebration to commemorate the center’s 20th anniversary, including how the experience inspired her to continue advocacy work as director of youth services at the LGBT Center in San Francisco. The panel included Edwina Welch, director of the Cross-Cultural Center, the first center created on campus; and Fer Villalbazo, a senior and leader of the group Teran began, now known as Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC).

“Celebrating 20 years is a significant achievement,” said Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Becky Petitt at the celebration. “We are embracing community in a very public way. To our students, staff and faculty—we see you and we are glad you are here.”

The event drew over 100 students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members for food, music and reminiscing. A video of the ribbon cutting ceremony from 1999 played on loop, and the rainbow ribbon that was cut was on display, still vibrant. Apple cider sparkled in tall champagne glasses, enjoyed by guests during a toast to the center.

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The anniversary event drew over 100 students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members for a celebration that included food, music, historical displays and a photo booth.

“For twenty years our center has been building community on campus,” said Shaun Travers, director of the LGBT Resource Center, “and it has been the commitment of so many students, faculty and staff that continues to make UC San Diego the vibrant community it is.”

For students who are questioning their sexuality or dealing with the difficult process of coming out, the presence of a visible center with trained staff makes a critical impact. In 1992, a report was written to convey the crucial need for office space and a paid staff member for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Association, a student-run collective that provided resources and meeting space.

Two more resolutions were published before the tide turned in Oct. 1998. The campus and nation collectively rallied around the death of Matthew Shepard, a gay student who was tragically murdered at the University of Wyoming. Over 300 students at UC San Diego gathered on Library Walk, donning green armbands in honor of Shepard, to inspire awareness and prevent further violence. Backed by the student body and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on LGBT Issues, the center was approved by Chancellor Dynes in 1999.

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The LGBT Resource Center is now one of six campus community centers at UC San Diego dedicated to diversity and inclusion efforts. Originally located in a 300-square-foot office in University Center, the LGBT Resource Center moved into a prominent, 2,700-square-foot building near Mandeville Center in 2006—one of the largest facilities of its kind in the nation. The space includes a library, kitchen, conference room, gender inclusive restroom, computers and more.

Led by three full-time staff members, the LGBT Resource Center offers campus community members a hub to explore issues relating to sexual and gender identities, practices and politics. Through numerous yearly programs, the center develops student leadership, builds workplace equity, promotes academic research and provides resources for LGBTQ people. From a robust internship program to Out and Proud Week and student organizations like the Coming Out Group and Black Queer Collective, the center serves the needs of many.

In recognition of their 20th anniversary, the LGBT Resource Center invites all to join in a series of events throughout the year. Learn more at lgbt.ucsd.edu.

Annual LGBT Alumni Brunch – 20th Anniversary Edition!

Saturday, Apr. 27, Noon to 1:30 p.m., LGBT Resource Center
The annual LGBT alumni brunch will look back at the center’s milestones over the past 20 years and will include food, connections and community.

Rainbow Graduation and Induction into the LGBT Alumni

Saturday, June 8th, 3-6 p.m., location TBA
Graduating students will be inducted as alumni at the center. They will reflect on their memories and share their future plans.

UC San Diego’s participation in the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade

Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Hillcrest, San Diego
Every year, UC San Diego has a contingent in the annual LGBT Pride Parade in San Diego, and this year will be showing their 20-year anniversary pride as they honor the 50th year anniversary of the Stonewall riots!

UC San Diego’s Homo-coming

Saturday, Oct. 19
UC San Diego hosts a number of events related to the annual homecoming, and this year will have something special for our LGBTQIA+ alumni, a “Homo-coming” if you will.

The LGBT Resource Center’s 20th Birthday Celebration

Friday, Nov. 8th, Noon, LGBT Resource Center
On a sunny Monday in 1999, the dedication ceremony for what was called the LGBT Resource “Office” was held outside a tiny facility near Center Hall. On that same day 20 years later, they will have a birthday celebration to bear witness to our growth and change.