Kaleidoscope, N.C. Central University’s LGBT-themed housing option, has entered its second active year with no signs of stopping.
Located on the third floor of Ruffin Residence Hall, the program focuses on issues related to gender-, sexual-, and relationship-minoritized (GSRM) individuals, a community more commonly referred to as LGBT.
NCCU is no stranger to standing up for the LGBT community: the LGBTA Center opened in the Alfonso Elder Student Union in April 2013, making it the second HBCU in the nation to have a fully-staffed LGBT resource center and the first of its kind in North Carolina. The student organization associated with the center is COLORS — Creating Open Lives and Organizing for Real Success — which strives to encourage open-mindedness about genders and sexualities while also providing a safe community for NCCU students on campus.
Campus Pride, a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students, included NCCU on their HBCU Clearinghouse “Dean’s List,” the organization’s highest honor shared with only seven other HBCUs.
For the 2018-19 academic year, Kaleidoscope houses 17 students from the sophomore, junior and senior classes. Suites are gender-inclusive, meaning that cisgender (biological sex matching with gender presentation), transgender and gender-nonconforming students may all live within the same area.
“Living in Kaleidoscope has introduce me to meeting new happily-queer people on campus that I hadn’t met before,” psychology sophomore and COLORS vice president Quentin Mercer said. “It has unity and full pursuit of unapologetic expression that I value a lot.”
Students participating in the program have multiple team-building and intra-community events during the school year, including Theme Program Retreats at the beginning of both semesters and monthly LGBT-centric workshops and lessons conducted by participants and Area Coordinator Sidney Rice and students alike.
Rice was the driving force behind Kaleidoscope’s implementation.
“I decided to do some research and saw that we needed to create some extra support for people in certain communities, and that started a campaign for different themed programs for Residential Life,” Rice explained.
Kaleidoscope, alongside NCCU’s other LGBT-based programs, has produced campus advocates like chemistry senior Vershon Battle who participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s HBCU Leadership Summit, an event held every November dedicated to bringing together HBCU students from around the nation for fellowship, debate and workshop opportunities.
“(The program) means having a sense of security and community — I had no idea what it meant to be gay on an HBCU campus,” said mass communication junior Mr. COLORS De’Aundre Barnes. “When I heard about Kaleidoscope, I saw an opportunity to be able to be my true self in a safe environment and around like-minded individuals.”
Students interested in joining Kaleidoscope can contact Sidney Rice by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone during university office hours at (919) 530-6527.