HELPING STUDENT FIND THEIR VOICE FOR 40 YEARS
by TAYLOR ZENZ, CSU Public Relations Intern
This year is all about traditions and anniversaries. Alongside the University’s 150th and the Centennial Student Unions 50th celebrations, the LGBT Center hosted their 40thanniversary this past week.
Back when it was still Mankato State, the University became the second school in the nation to have a campus-based LGBT Center. In 1977, the “Alternative Lifestyle Center” was found with only a few student volunteers and a graduate assistant as part of their staff.
Now, the landmark LGBT Center has an independent office, a full-time coordinator, Jessica Flatequal, and hundreds of students who visit the Center each week.
One student, Graham Waitt, is especially thankful for the LGBT Center this year. As a nontraditional student who felt lost in school, he joined the LGBT Center and never looked back.
“I would not be who I am today without the people that I met simply by hanging out in the Center,” Graham mentions, “I think the biggest impact was that it helped me find my own voice that I didn’t realize I had. It helped me become a strong advocate and ally for the community that I now call home.”
Like many other students, Graham didn’t find the comfort of the LGBT Center right away. As a freshman on campus, he didn’t feel comfortable enough to go into the Center or to volunteer. When returning to Minnesota State Mankato after taking time off, he knew that he didn’t want to let a second chance pass him by. After meeting a close friend in Residential Life who ultimately invited Waitt to join her in the Center, he found himself visiting frequently and making friends.
“It was one of the best decisions that I ever made in college,” Graham said.
Joining the LGBT Center provides endless opportunities for students. For Graham, it’s given him the opportunity to get out in the community and give back. He’s been able to attend several LGBT conferences around the Midwest and was given chances to be a speaker at peer panels to educate the community on LGBT-specific issues. He also has had the privilege to help with campus Drag Shows and Mankato Pride.
Graham is not only an advocate for the LGBT Center and community, but an advocate for finding your true self.
“That’s what we all want in the end, right?” he stated.
To learn more about the LGBT Center on campus, visit https://www.mnsu.edu/lgbtc.