UCR Magazine The Magazine of UC Riverside

Fall 2013

Past Issues

A Matter of Pride

Student with rainbow-colored hair

Ryan Ritchie, M.F.A. ’13

UCR’s history of firsts in its support for the LGBT community has created an inclusive atmosphere for students.

Jorge DeLos Santos talks about one of his best moments at UC Riverside with, well, pride.

“Two years ago, we had a pride march on campus,” the 21-year-old says. “It was really spontaneous. It came about as a reaction to this one guy who preaches about God all the time by the bell tower.”

DeLos Santos got together with other members of LGBT groups. Waving a giant rainbow flag, they walked around the grounds during a busy nooner. Participants held hands, couples kissed and everyone had a great time.

“People’s reactions were funny,” he says. The group got a few confused looks, but for the most part, students cheered everyone on. “It took a lot for us to expose ourselves, but it was about us reclaiming our space.”

DeLos Santos, a women’s studies major, is the president of La Familia, a group devoted to finding a safe space for the Hispanic LGBT community. Before he was a student, DeLos Santos wasn’t always so sure about UCR’s sincere support for the LGBT community. DeLos Santos, who dresses like an average Highlander in jeans and T-shirts, dyes his hair crazy colors — everything from turquoise to red, green and purple. “It sets me apart,” he says. “But I’ve also had people call me a fag from moving vehicles while walking to campus from my Riverside apartment.”

At Q-Camp, an event held for incoming students in the beginning of the school year, he got proof of UCR’s sincere efforts to reach out to the LGBT community. He also participated in a group discussion hosted by James Sandoval, vice chancellor for student affairs, at the LGBT Resource Center. “I thought, someone is really listening, and someone cares,” DeLos Santos says. “Sandoval is in that building where all the important people are, and [the administration] sent someone to talk to us,” he said.

What UCR needs is more allies. More allies equals less hate.

Jorge DeLos Santos, president, La Familia

Through the years, the institutional support that UCR has shown the LGBT student community has made a difference. This year, the campus is establishing new technology for a preferred- name system that transgender students can use. Transgender- related medical costs are covered under student health insurance. Student organizations are encouraged to come out as LGBT allies. (“What UCR needs is more allies. More allies equals less hate,” DeLos Santos says.) Resource centers provide training on LGBT issues. Faculty partnerships boost the scholarly support. “Being welcomed by the school contributes to a better education and better opportunities for scholarships,” DeLos Santos says. And without that support, events such as the spontaneous pride march wouldn’t have been possible.

These efforts have led to national recognition for UCR; in August, it was named one of the nation’s Top-25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities by the Huffington Post and Campus Pride, the leading national organization for LGBT student leaders and campus groups.

First LGBT Resource Center in California

Opening in 1993, the center was the first on a California campus with a professionally staffed office devoted to LGBT issues. Currently run by Nancy Jean Tubbs and Toi Thibodeaux, the LGBT Resource Center is the starting point for nearly all LGBT issues at UCR. When students want to organize an event or form a group, the center serves as a guide for campus policy.

Last year, Tubbs says, the Center was involved in 365 programs within UCR and the outside community. Annually, the center also supports student-run events such as Pride Prom, the Dragalicious Drag Ball and the theatrical presentation, “The Coming Out Monologues.”

Before the center was established, Queer Alliance was the only student-run organization at UCR related to LGBT issues. Today, groups such as La Familia, Queer People of Colors, Asterisk, Queer of Association of API’s, NAMES & Neighbors and the inclusive sorority Gamma Rho Lambda give students the opportunity to find a group that is best suited to their needs.

“We let students know how to take initiative and create the spaces they need,” Thibodeaux says. “We’re their support. We give them that push and help them do what they need to do to be successful.”

For the upcoming year, the center is preparing Jan. 18’s Tabla Conference, which is organized by NAMES & Neighbors and focuses on LGBTQ students with cultural ties to South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Another conference in the planning stages is the BlaqOUT Retreat for students who identify as African and African-American.

First to Offer an LGBIT Minor

In 1996, UCR became the first California campus to offer a minor in LGBIT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Intersex, Transgender) studies, which consists of 24 units made up of 20 upper-division courses. The history of sexuality and the history of LGBT rights movements are part of the curriculum, as are classes on new queer Brit literature, and theory of gender inequality.

Jennifer Doyle, the LGBIT studies co-chair and English professor, says the program puts questions of sex and sexuality at the center of teaching. “It’s one of the ways we visibly commit ourselves to research, writing and teaching.”

We are home to nationally prominent scholars who have helped to define queer studies in history, film and visual culture, literary studies, sociology and more.

Jennifer Doyle, the LGBIT studies co-chair and English professor

She stresses UCR’s national prominence in queer studies as well: “We are home to nationally prominent scholars who have helped to define queer studies in history, film and visual culture, literary studies, sociology and more.”

Just by its very existence, the LGBIT minor is an education as well. George Haggerty, distinguished professor of English and the founder of the LGBIT minor, says the minor is empowering for many students who may feel isolated because they can’t speak to their families or friends about what they’re going through. “Finding a field of study where there’s an intellectual engagement in issues larger than yourself is really transformative for people,” he said.

Despite the fact that LGBT classes are hugely popular (they’re often standing-room only, and there’s always a waiting list for classes), support for the LGBIT minor has been an area of concern.

To teach a class, instructors have to ask their departments for releases. This can be difficult, Doyle says, because everyone is working so hard to cover the needs of their own departments. “It makes it hard to free oneself up [to teach] the minor.”

“There are also people who think that what we do is inappropriate,” Doyle says. “As long as there is homophobia, transphobia and sexism in the world, LGBT and feminist scholarship will face opposition.”

UCR is making a concerted effort to support and promote LGBT advocacy on campus. Toni Lawrence, associate director of development for the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, is fund raising for scholarships and fellowships for students whose research has an LGBT theme, a proposed LGBT research center, endowed chairs and for the LGBT Resource Center’s Intersect, Connect and Engage (ICE) Project. Lawrence says all these initiatives will allow the university to continue to attract the best and brightest students and faculty and ensure that UCR is at the forefront of LGBT research on emerging issues.

First School to Offer Gender Inclusive Housing

In 2005, UCR became the first public school in the nation to provide gender-inclusive housing to all students. This living option allows students to room with any other student, regardless of gender identity or sex assigned at birth. Stonewall Hall residents also live in gender-inclusive suites in Pentland Hills. This hall provides students with LGBTQ social, cultural and educational programs. The creation of Stonewall Hall, Tubbs says, is one example of how change is made when faculty, staff and students work together.

“Our students were inspired by our coordinators who were out as trans, so when they went to Housing asking for a living community, they were conscious of being trans-inclusive. The leadership at Housing said they could make it happen — they just needed to come up with policy,” Tubbs explained. This is very indicative of how UCR works. It’s not one thing — it was the students, it was the center, it was our colleagues around campus.”

a-matter-of-pride

UCR’s history of firsts in its support for the LGBT community has created an inclusive atmosphere for students.
  • 1979–89

    Charles Weis, director of UCR’s psychological counseling center, creates a mentor program for gay and lesbian students. He also begins a fund that worked with the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS on campus.
  • 1993

    UCR becomes the first campus in the state (and the first west of Iowa) with a professionally staffed LGBT Resource Center. That same year, UCR hosts “Unnatural Acts: Theorizing the Performative,” a national conference on LGBT studies and the arts.
  • 1996

    UCR offers the first LGBIT studies minor in California.
  • 2003

    Student-run Queer Alliance holds first Pride Prom. The free event shows high school, junior college and UCR students how inclusive UCR is. It is now in its 10th year.
  • 2003

    Student-run Queer Alliance holds first Pride Prom. The free event shows high school, junior college and UCR students how inclusive UCR is. It is now in its 10th year.
  • 2003

    The International Transgender Day of Remembrance is celebrated on campus on November 20.
  • 2003

    The week-long even honors victims of transgender-related violence.
  • 2004

    The first Dragalicious Drag Ball is held. The hugely popular fund-raiser combines dancing, comedy, singing, fashion and drag performances.
  • 2004

    The first Dragalicious Drag Ball is held. The hugely popular fund-raiser combines dancing, comedy, singing, fashion and drag performances.
  • 2004

    Smith’s mother, Tranquil Calley (M.A. ’89), establishes the Kalyn Smith-Tranquil’son Memorial Fund in memory of her son, offering financial assistance to LGBT students.
  • 2005

    Q-Camp is established, acquainting LGBT students with college life.
  • 2005

    Stonewall Hall, located in Pentland Hills, becomes the first gender inclusive housing in the country.
  • 2007

    “The Coming Out Monologues,” a live onstage production celebrating faculty, staff and students’ coming-out experiences, is staged. (Submit your stories by Jan. 31 to coming.out.ucr@gmail.com.)
  • 2011

    Andy Plumley, the assistant vice chancellor of Housing, Dining and Residential Services, helped raise $10,000 for the LGBTQIA student scholarship fund by donning a wig, a red dress and lip-synching to “I Want Candy” at the ball.
  • 2011

    UCR co-found T*Camp, the nation’s first intercampus retreat for Trans/Gendequeer and Gender-questioning college students.
  • 2012

    The Advocate names UCR one of the top 10 trans-friendly campuses in the country.
  • 2013

    More than 300 people attend the UQ Conference, a day-long event highlighting 20 years of LGBT progress at the University of California. More than 50 educational institutions participates in the UQ Conference.
  • 2013

    More than 300 people attend the UQ Conference, a day-long event highlighting 20 years of LGBT progress at the University of California. More than 50 educational institutions participates in the UQ Conference.
  • 2013

    More than 300 people attend the UQ Conference, a day-long event highlighting 20 years of LGBT progress at the University of California. More than 50 educational institutions participates in the UQ Conference.
  • 2013

    In August, the campus is named one of the Top-25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities by the Huffington Post and Campus Pride.