The LGBTQIA Center has always been a space at Conn where I feel comfortable and at home. As a first-year student, when I went to the Center’s annual ice cream social at the beginning of the fall semester, I walked in as a shy new student who knew no one and did not really know who he was yet. The Center’s orange walls made me feel warm inside and, while I met many new people that night, the thing I remember most was the community bond that came out of that orange space. I felt welcome. Even though I was not out at the time it did not matter. I still felt like a part of the community tightly gathered in the room. That feeling drove me to get involved with the Center more and more during my time at Conn. As a senior, I am still involved. I am in the peer mentorship program where first-years and sophomores are matched with juniors and seniors to help guide them through their college experience and answer questions. Being able to help other queer students through their college experience and being able to answer questions that I wish I could have asked someone has been rewarding, to say the least.
The mentorship program started two years ago partly due to the efforts of other students who wanted a program like this at Conn. The program matches students based on similar experiences and shared interests. It does not have to be all about queer issues. Especially at the beginning, most of the conversations are about navigating college life and getting settled in. The program was something I would have highly benefited from as a younger student but it has been just as important for me to have a physical space where I felt understood and safe.
Over my four years here, I have seen the Center sponsor and host more and more events for queer students which has fostered the growth of the queer community on campus. Through the Center, I have made friends that have been there to answer my questions and help with my own experience here at Conn.