Next spring Kaleidoscope, an LGBTQIA+ friendly housing opportunity at N.C. Central University, will be re-established.
Kaleidoscope aims to create Living Learning Communities for students with different sexual identities.
“I think it is important to re-establish this community because queer students deserve a communal space as well,” said Eric Martin, a graduate assistant with the NCCU Women’s Center.
“We talk a lot about intersectionality on campus, meaning that there are multiple identities that our students have.”
NCCU’s first LLC was established in 2017, but the idea lost momentum beginning in 2019.
Interested students will complete an interest form and undergo a review for eligibility and then submit a commitment form.
“Like other LLCs, it is a chance for students to live with other students to have things in common. It builds community for students, so having one for the LGBTQIA+ community is imperative for a campus that prides itself on diversity and inclusion,” said Martin.
It will also provide support to those who not only share similar identities but prevent isolation, Martin said.
A Gallup poll reported by CNN found that an unprecedented number of U.S. citizens identify as LGBTQIA+ and that young people, especially Generation Z, are driving the increase.
“Statistically, more students are coming out before college, so having a campus that welcomes them with open arms and a community to enrich and house them aids in making our students feel safe, wanted, and included,” said Martin.
Despite the incremental progress at HBCUs, there is still hostility that often makes LGBTQIA+ students feel unwelcomed.
On June 21, 2018, The Nation reported on instances of hate at Spelman University in Atlanta when notes were slipped under the doors of LGBTQIA+ students.
“Keep Spelman safe. We don’t want you. F*** you freaks. No queers,” was written on one note.
“#DIE No f*******! We don’t want you here,” on another.
It was up to professor Beverly Guy-Sheftall to respond to the hate.
“We would have to say out loud and on a regular basis that we have issues around this and address them as an institution,” she said.
Guy-Sheftall teaches Women’s Studies at Spelman College. She has also been the founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center since 1981.
She emphasized how the college failed to see how homophobia exists in the community and other HBCUs.
“It has been difficult to create what I would call a queer-friendly campus because we haven’t acknowledged as an institution the deep and persistent issues around homophobia that exist in the community — and HBCUs are a microcosm of that,” Guy-Sheftall said.
NCCU’s Kaleidoscope takes a step toward supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.
Students selected for Kaleidoscope will join forces with other residential hall employees to experience the reassuring atmosphere of the LLC.
“We are very student-centered and would like our students to work on some of the events and programming in collaboration with the Resident Assistant so that we can hear our student’s voices and encourage them to educate and support each other,” said Emily P. Guzman, director of Diversity and Inclusion at NCCU.
“We will also have some planned curriculum to create structure and community,” she said.
Guzman sees the university’s LGBTQIA+ Resource Center as an example for other HBCUs.
“Of the 107 HBCUs, we are one of four HBCUs that have an LGBTQ Center. We were the first one in the Southeast and the second one in the nation. Our LGBTQIA center was established in 2013,” said Guzman.
“I am so proud to be a small part of such a historic center that so many people worked so hard to bring into existence.”