Various vivid colors of pride adorned the University Student Union Games Center Thursday, Sept.15 as nearly 100 students learned about LGBT resources on campus, emphasizing the importance of queer visibility.
The fourth day of the week-long “Cultural Welcomes at the Beach” event by ASI featured LGBTQIA-centric organizations, departments and resources to better support queer students at Long Beach State.
“I’ve had conversations with new LGBT students that just came in, and they were like, ‘I don’t feel like I see LGBT students represented, I don’t feel like I see pride flags so I don’t know if this is a place that I can really be myself and thrive,’” Brenden Thomas Cashatt, LGBTQ resource center assistant director said. “So I think more visibility is really key.”
The event offered opportunities for queer students to socialize with each other through games of pool, bowling and bingo, as well as complimentary food and items.
“Just having a community that is visible to say, ‘You’re welcome here, you belong here and we want to provide a home for you,’ is really essential,” Cashatt said.
As more students return on-campus, some clubs such as the Queer Students’ Alliance said they had to grapple with the unexpected amount of 60 students who attended their first meeting.
“We were just floored, and I think everyone in that room was just so surprised,” Lila Hunter, senior graphic design major said. “This is a room full of people like me. And that’s something really special.”
Department Chair of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Lori Baralt said current issues like the overturning of Roe v. Wade and anti-transgender legislation are discussions encouraged in their classes.
“I think it’s imperative that when things are happening globally or in the United States that we are having those conversations right away,” Cashatt said. “It might feel great at CSULB, but we are part of the whole world – our students are humans before they are students.”
Cashatt said their biggest goals for the school year are connection, community and visibility. OUTober, a month of LGBT programs and events, will also have more opportunities for students to be involved.
“This is a super important place to be their genuine self and not have to be afraid of being judged for who they are,” Hunter said. “That opens up a lot of roads to a lot of really deep friendships.”