SFSU opens queer
by Elliot Owen
It may be surprising to hear that prior to this year, San Francisco State University did not offer a queer resource center to its student body of about 30,000. But, emphasized a group of five trailblazing young adults responsible for its opening, the point is that it's finally here.
On February 7, the grand opening of the SFSU Queer Resource Center began on the campus' quad to loud music and a warm reception by students both there for the celebration and also just passing through on their way to class. It ended with an informal meet-and-greet attended by around 30 students and staff curious about the university's new program.
While other queer-centered organizations exist on campus, the QRC is set apart by its mission. In keeping with the university's history of social justice and community engagement, the QRC seeks to offer LGBTQQIA-specific events, services, and resources to students.
Acting as an informational and educational database, it's a place for students to learn about the queer community in historical and contemporary contexts through events, and also, by accessing the queer lending library (which is accepting donations) and a comprehensive list of queer services offered citywide.
"On top of that," said QRC director Cassidy Barrington, "we're aiming for the QRC to be a place to find community and support. It's important that this center exists because even though we live in San Francisco, that doesn't mean you can find community easily."
Barrington, 23 and queer femme-identified, is earning her master's degree in human sexuality studies and was hired last October by Associated Students Inc. at SFSU, the university's student government, to oversee the center's launch.
Currently, the QRC exists as a project of EROS, the campus' sexual health and education program, and shares their annual budget. Numbers were not available.
But, said ASI board member Abel Gomez, 23, the goal is for the QRC to eventually be fiscally independent. Gomez, a queer-identified philosophy and religion undergraduate student, has been involved in conversations around the QRC's creation since September 2011. For him, its opening is especially gratifying.
"One of the reasons I've been in support of a QRC is because I'm really interested in political work around queer identity and politics," Gomez said. "Also, what is our history? That's a really crucial one for the community. And the educational element – learning about other subsets of queer community. I feel incredibly grateful to be part of this."
The QRC has had two events this semester: an LGBTQ ally training for ASI students and staff, and the grand opening. Next, the center will be holding a three-part forum on butch identities (the first session already took place, the others are scheduled for March 19 and April 16), a workshop called Queer Crossroads: Intersectionality (March 5), a second workshop titled Homonormativity 101 (April 9), and lastly, a lavender graduation ceremony for LGBTQ students (May 18).
Each of the eight ASI-funded programs is required to hold three events per semester. If the QRC's total of six events are any indication of the new project's ability to expand, it should be its own independent program by next year, Barrington said. Gomez is just as hopeful about growing the center.
"Other schools' QRCs have really amazing resources for students like scholarships and internships," he said. "Right now we're making baby steps but that's where we'll be eventually."
To donate books to the SFSU QRC library or for more information, contact Barrington at firstname.lastname@example.org.