The LGBTQ Resource Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary with OUTober, an annual monthlong programming series honoring the LGBTQ community, this month.
This year’s theme, “Looking Forward,” aims to build off the current on-campus LGBTQ infrastructure to identify emerging issues for the community through a series of keynote speakers, discussions and events, according to LGBTQ Resource Center Director and Special Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs Shiva Subbaraman.
“The center has been here for 10 years, so we are also celebrating our 10th anniversary of the Resource Center,” Subbaraman said in an interview with The Hoya. “The center came as a result of student activism in 2007, and it is the first center in a Catholic institution and still is the only center in a Catholic institution.”
OUTober’s focus needs to move past foundational issues pertaining to infrastructure and visibility, according to Subbaraman.
“This year what I’m trying to do is to look forward to see where are the gaps of the composition that we need to go and build on and hopefully in the next few years we will identify where those emerging issues are, where those gaps are, and that is where the conversations will go,” Subbaraman said.
Despite the significant progress made in the 10 years since the LGBTQ Resource Center’s opening, Subbaraman wants to combat apathy toward LGBTQ issues.
“People tend to think we have gay marriage, we have acceptance, everything is fine, but it is not,” Subbaraman said. “There are a lot of new emerging identities, there are lots of new emerging touch points, and I think continuing to educate ourselves and educate the campus about those gaps is where I want to go.”
GU Pride Co-President Andrew Molinari (COL ’21) hopes people who take part in OUTober acknowledge the progress made in the LGBTQ community, but also recognize the areas that need improvement.
“I hope they see celebrations of what makes our community so great and also what needs to be worked on,” Molinari said.
OUTober, a tradition that began in 2012, is organized by the LGBTQ Resource Center, Georgetown University Pride, Georgetown University Queer People of Color and the McDonough Alliance.
Smaller events and discussions are held in collaboration with various student clubs, academic departments and organizations, along with Campus Ministry.
This year, GU Pride is focused on putting forth fewer, larger events in hopes of creating a sense of community among the student body, specifically for new students, according to Molinari.
“I love October because it’s so early in the school year, so especially for newer students who are trying to see what is the LGBTQ scene on this campus, what are its strengths, what are its weaknesses and what is beautiful about it, we as student clubs get to show all of that in one month which I think is great,” Molinari said.
The LGBTQ Resource Center first opened in August 2008 following a student-led campaign “Out for Change” and a 2007 town hall, where University President John J. DeGioia promised more initiatives to create a LGBTQ-friendly campus in response to bias-related incidents on campus.
OUTober serves as an opportunity to educate the campus on LGBTQ history, culture and diversity, much like heritage months the university recognizes, Subbaraman said.
“We need to use this opportunity to educate the campus on LGBTQ histories, cultures and the large diversity, because the LGBTQ community is diverse by race, ethnicity, class, religion, ability: You name anything, we are diverse,” Subbaraman said.
The main event of the program series and key 10th anniversary celebration, “Edges that Blur,” is a conversation about student activism between Marcia Chatelain, the Provost’s distinguished associate professor of history and African American studies, and Daniel Porterfield, president of the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit leadership think tank.
In addition to the major key speakers and events, numerous ethnic and cultural student groups, including the Asian-Pacific Islander Leadership Forum, will be collaborating on smaller scale events in OUTober. APILF is hosting a “Queer and Asian Dialogue” at the LGBTQ Resource Center on Nov. 7 to discuss these intersections of identities, according to APILF leadership team member Heejin Hahn (COL ’20).
“One of the main things we discuss is what does being queer and Asian mean to you, because both are such diverse terms that apply to so many different people,” Hahn said. “So, hopefully meeting and hearing other stories will create comfort for people who think they are alone on this campus.”
Although OUTober aims to create a campus environment where special attention is paid to LGBTQ issues during the month of October, its organizers hope that by having events in the start of November as well, discussions will continue past the scope of the events.
“Our goal is to build community and have that community extend throughout the year and not just be limited to our events in OUTober,” Molinari said.
While OUTober displays distinct features of Georgetown’s LBGTQ community, the month also highlights the ways in which it is integrated into the larger Georgetown University community, Subbaraman said.
“There is a tendency on college campuses to think of LGBTQ identities as separate from all other identities. As if being gay defines all of who we are, and it does not,” Subbaraman said. “The presence of this is to really showcase that LGBTQ people not only are a part of this community, but we are part of all other communities and all other communities are a part of us.”
This article was updated Friday at 2:23 A.M.