Our History

While the LGBT Resource Center is fairly new to campus, there is a lot of history behind how we got here!

There is record of a student LGBT organization at GVSU in 1971, called the Gay Alliance. Grand Valley Gay Alliance hold public “pit session” featuring “real life” homosexual [noted in Lanthorn, 05/26/71, p. 4].

In the early 90s the student organization was called Ten Percent of You. 10% of U, new group for gay and lesbian students, forms at GVSU [noted in Network News newsletter 03/90].

In 1997 Ten Percent reformed as Out ‘N’ About which exists today as Out ‘N’ About, GVSU’s Gay/Straight Alliance. OnA sponsors an annual calendar of LGBT events including National Coming Out Day in October, Transgender Day of Remembrance in November, and National Day of Silence in April to name a few.
From the early 90s Allies & Advocates has been an LGBT faculty and staff organization to train faculty and staff how to better support and provide safe space for LGBT students at GVSU. Beginning in 06-07, A&A offers three training session a year, and the organization has a visible campus presence through signs on members’ doors and through representation at campus-wide events.

In the 90s the Dean of Students Office created the position of Liaison to the Dean of Students Office for GLBT Issues. In 2004 there were the first Liaison hours, and in 2006 the Liaison position became a half-time position in the Division of Student Affairs with responsibility for providing student services for LGBT students. In the winter of 05-06 an advisory group composed of students, faculty, staff, and area representatives developed a Strategic Plan for the LGBT Resource Center to open in The Kirkhof Center is May, 08.

Housing supports an student allies and advocates program called Safe Harbor to inform students about the challenges of LGBT experience at GVSU and to provide safe space for them in the living areas. For two years housing has sponsored a drag show which has become a favorite LGBT event of campus fostering understanding of gender diversity on campus.

An informal group of faculty and staff called “The Fun List” emerged sometime in the 90’s to provide social contact for lesbian and gay faculty and staff.

In the 90s President Lubbers established an advisory committee to advise him on LGBT matters. Domestic partner benefits became the focus of this committee.

A sub-group of the Fun Group informally organized as a Faculty and Staff Association to speak to the benefits issues with a uniform voice during the second presidential look at the issue under President Murray.

The GVSU LGBT Scholarship was developed as a positive response to the negative decision concerning Domestic Partner Benefits. That scholarship grants two to three scholarships each year. It is now joined by the AWARE LGBT Scholarship funded by West Shore Aware, a non-profit, philanthropic, LGBT organization in Saugatuck/ Douglas.

The GVSU LGBT Faculty and Staff Association became a formal GVSU organization in the summer of 2006 for the purpose of making GVSU a welcoming environment for LGBT faculty and staff primarily, but there is an natural extension of that mission to include students.

In the spring of 2007 GVSU held its first Lavender Graduation, which was planned to honor LGBT students who had completed their study for a Grand Valley degree, but it also turned out to be a celebration of what the LGBT community here has accomplished.

GVSU now has a family of organizations, each playing key roles in the continuing development of a healthy campus environment for LGBT students, faculty and staff and the whole community. Through these collective efforts, an LGBT culture of events, community, and contribution is now a part of the world of GVSU.

Compiled by Milt Ford, 9-6-07

If you have any additional information about the history of LGBT advocacy at Grand Valley, please contact us: lgbtcenter@gvsu.edu.

Page last modified August 6, 2010