[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: I was class of '68. And in those days, homosexuality was still considered a psychiatric disorder. Well, I thought, I must be the only gay person on this whole campus. I felt completely confused. I had nobody with whom to discuss this. Had there been any sort of gay role models on the campus or any kind of a support network of any kind, it would have been enormously helpful.
I wish that it had existed when I was there.
MATTHEW A. CARCELLA: Cornell was the second university in the country to have an LGBT student group. At that time it was called a student homophile league. It was founded in the fall of 1968. That group grew over time and changed names just about every half decade. And eventually in 1994, there was a proposal created to establish an LGBT resource center.
KENT HUBBELL: We want to provide two essential things, it seems to me, for LGBT students on campus. First of all, I want to provide support where it's warranted as students go through various changes and develop their identities on campus. So we want to be there for them in those instances. But the other part that's important-- we also want to support their efforts at community building.
NATHANIEL TREFFEISEN: There's a huge disconnect between LGBTQ people on campus, whether because they're choosing not to be involved in the LGBT resource center or just don't know about it. And I think that the potential that the resource center has is to bring all those people together.
KENT HUBBELL: Create a place that's really home to them, that's a place they can thrive, a place where they don't feel somehow out of place or marginalized.
CHARLES F. MAHER: I go there all the time. It's a great spot to hang out, have meetings, just have a safe space where I can be myself and I can help other students to try to do the same.
EMILY BICK: Ever since I came in freshman year, I've been hanging out in the resource center and meeting up with people there, scheduling meetings, reading the books in the library, or watching movies. It's been central for my experience at Cornell.
ANGELA LU: It says a lot about the university to say we are going to allocate for such a space.
MICHAEL C. BECK: The top priorities on my list was making sure that I went to a school that had a very friendly, accepting, and strong LGBT culture.
JESSE MCELWAIN: All you have to do is go to the website or ask somebody. There's tons of educational programs all the time.
REBECCA DARLING: As a master's student, our classes and program are quite intense. And we tend to spend a lot of time focusing on academics. And so it's a nice way for me to get to know other people.
KHAMILA ALEBIOSU: I feel so comfortable there. And I feel like I can really be authentic to myself and be the loud, crazy person that I am and be theatrical and perform and not be judged.
OLIVIA TAI: I really found myself. It was in a community I was able to become the leader that I knew I can be. You wouldn't get that in a class.
NICOLE OFFERDAHL: The LGBT resource center has been very helpful in teaching me about leadership on campus and teaching me how to work with members of a diverse community even outside of the Cornell community.
JADEY HURAY: It also creates a sort of hub for us to go to. It's the safe space which all these students can go to whenever we need to. There's always Matt in his office. And we can drop by and ask him for any advice we need.
MATTHEW A. CARCELLA: I really see the work of the LGBT resource center as being the central hub of all LGBT life on campus.
JASON MCGILL: It also provides, frankly, some really critical counseling and other resources for students who are at various stages in thinking about their sexuality or their gender identity.
JULIE CROTTY: It's a huge benefit for Cornell. Because as each of us find our community at Cornell-- and it's a big institution-- everyone does better when they find that community.
NICK SALVATO: I remember very early after coming here being invited to have coffee and cookies with students in the resource center. And it was really important to be in a space that was identified as a queer space and a safe space and talk to students about their lives, their intellectual interests, their activism.
LEO STELLWAG: I run a transgender support group here on campus, open to the community. Matt has been really helpful with making sure that the group has what it needs and that I have whatever support I need. So in that way, it's been critical.
OLIVIA TAI: We decided to do a workshop series, where we would go to all these different communities and hold something that I call non-diversity training. We actually won the Perkins Prize for our workshop series. And I was so proud because it was the first time an LGBT group won such a prestigious award at the university.
ANTONIO HAYNES: There are great opportunities for collaboration and also mentorship. You know, I think it's very good for sometimes minority students, whether gay or other minorities, to see strong minority people from the professional schools that are sort of confident in themselves and in doing what they need to do.
PATRICIA NGUYEN: Being an administrator and a staff person that supports students, I think the power of your own narrative and being open as queer has been a way of supporting.
CINDY VAN ES: Even having just the little ally button on my desk has opened up some students who have mentioned some things to me. And I've been able to direct them towards the resource center.
ANGELA LU: We provide anonymous online chat-format referencing and support for student or other campus users who might log in and just post questions or talk about their concerns.
RUBEN ORTEGA, JR: I still feel like my peers are still resistant in feeling fully comfortable with themselves.
ANGELA LU: The reason why I'm very dedicated to it is because you really feel like you make an impact in someone's life.
EMILY BICK: I'm completely comfortable being gay at Cornell.
JADEY HURAY: It is OK to be queer, to be a Cornell student, and still be successful and happy.
KHAMILA ALEBIOSU: It seems like in just the last three years that I've been here, I feel like it's becoming so much more represented.
DALE B. BERNSTEIN: Our children today who are in school have it easier than people 10 years ago, who have it much easier than people 20 or 30 years ago. And the generations coming up, hopefully we won't even have to have this discussion. But for now, we do.
REBECCA DARLING: After being away for several years, I realized again what it's like to be in a place where you can be open and comfortable and not have to hide pronouns or who your partner is or that professors make space for that in their language in a class. And I really appreciate that.
MATTHEW A. CARCELLA: As we educate not only our queer students but our non-queer students, our normative straight students about LGBT issues, we know that our talented students are going to become leaders in industry and in politics and in the arts. And for them to have that exposure to queerness, to LGBT issues is really making a huge impact on the world.
OLIVIA TAI: Students really want to connect with alumni.
JESSE MCELWAIN: I've been pretty lucky to have met up with, in the course of the last couple of years, a bunch of LGBTQ Cornell alumni. After four years, I would be getting used to the whole LGBTQ life on campus. Its now feels really great that I can start getting used to LGBTQ life in the professional world.
MATT HYDE: I really hope the resource center also helps teach kids about their history. I think every diversity affinity group needs to know their history.
STEVEN W. SIEGEL: One significant dimension of my volunteer service is the Cornell University Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association, CUGALA for short.
OLIVIA TAI: There's a lot of history that gets lost. Like, If I didn't talk to these alumni, I wouldn't have really understood where we come from. I wouldn't have really understood what Cornell was before my time.
STEVEN W. SIEGEL: My efforts on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender alumni and students did not start when I was on campus in the 1960s. I did not realize until I was in my late 20s that the gay and lesbian community was really my community.
JASON MCGILL: CUGALA got created externally or outside of Cornell, formally constituted outside of Cornell.
DAVID DE PORTE: And it was formed more or less at the same time that the gay activism movement was coming into being.
EMANUEL TSOUROUNIS II: One of the many ways that the Alumni Association is getting involved on campus is actively supporting institutions on campus like the LGBT resource center that provide direct support to students.
MATT HYDE: Give to the resource center. It's in need of our help, whether that's in time or in money.
ARTHUR S. LEONARD: Most of my donations to Cornell include money specifically earmarked for the center, because I think it's very important that students have a resource on campus. It's very important that the center have adequate funding to actually have full-time staff.
NICK SALVATO: It's important for LGBT lives and work and concerns to be present in every part of what Cornell does and what Cornell is.
JASON MCGILL: I do feel that the university's leadership has really made tremendous strides in building not just an inclusive community but one where it really administratively seeks to listen.
MATTHEW A. CARCELLA: Cornell has a historical commitment to diversity. And I think that it's one of the few institutions among its peers that has the greatest potential to be the best university for LGBT students, staff, and faculty.
BRENDA MARSTON: I am really glad that we have such a strong LGBT resource center on campus and especially with the leadership of Matt Carcella. I feel like there is great collaboration between the different units helping bring the intellectual facets of LGBT studies and the library collection to the students on campus.
DALE B. BERNSTEIN: It makes Cornell well-positioned to be a center of learning on these topics.
EMANUEL TSOUROUNIS II: We will create a place where parents will feel comfortable sending their kids.
ARTHUR S. LEONARD: To make it possible that any freshman showing up at Cornell who has questions about his or her sexuality knows that there's a place to go.
JULIE CROTTY: People just need somewhere to go where they can be themselves. But my hope is that it is easier for people to deal with and that those who still have struggles have what they need.
TONY LEONG: I would just like to see this building completely occupied at all times, especially this floor. I just want to see people coming in, being comfortable.
RUBEN ORTEGA, JR: I want to be able to see a well-established mentorship that brings together both the undergraduate, graduate, and alumni community.
KENT HUBBELL: You know, frankly, I'd love to think that we really could lead by our example, nationally.
MATTHEW A. CARCELLA: 10 years from now, I would like to see other campuses and other universities looking at Cornell and saying, we want to do what they did for LGBT students, for LGBT academics, and for LGBT research.
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Founded on campus in 1994, the LGBT Resource Center serves as the central hub of LGBT life at Cornell for students, staff, and faculty. Working closely with the LGBT Studies Program and the Human Sexuality Collection, the LGBT RC seeks to create a community that actively works to eliminate heterosexism and gender oppression through synthesizing the in class and out of classroom experiences for all students. In addition, the LGBT RC is a resource for the entire campus community on matters related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning communities.
This video is a collective story from students, staff, faculty, alumni, and parents. The Cornell University Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association, in conjunction with the LGBT Resource Center, is actively seeking to reconnect with LGBTQ alumni and re-engage this population with the university. This video serves as a comprehensive overview of the history, current state, and future goals related to LGBTQ life on campus.