It’s easy to feel isolated from your community during a completely online world. However, resource centers are an amazing space to connect with other students in the community and take some time away from the demands of school and work.
For the LGBTQ+ community at San Diego State, this space is The Pride Center. Brenda Drew (they/them), a second-year history major and a current Pride Center Educator, shared how the pandemic affects who is able to attend the center’s weekly events.
“I’m understanding that not everybody can show up in the same capacities that they were able to when they were in person,” Drew said. “Some people love to go to our events, but they live in a space where they can’t do that.”
This school year, all events were held virtually, and the staff and students at the resource centers worked hard to create the same safe space online that is normally experienced in person. There are events to attend no matter what people are interested in, from Queer Coffee Hour to Queer Crafternoon, and the Pride Center also puts on events like their LGBT+ Faith Circle.
Diego Smith (he/him), a fourth-year sociology major and another Pride Center Educator, said the online spaces can be easier and more difficult at the same time.
“I feel like it’s taking away a lot of like the difficulties I’ve seen with hosting recurring events because you’re worried, ‘Is this the right time?’ and worry if people didn’t have the capacity after a long day of classes to come to this event or is it an inconvenient time for people,” Smith said. “The virtual space kind of takes it all away because it’s a lot easier to access our events, like, technically it is. I think I feel like we’re still burning out just as quickly.”
Regular events the Pride Center puts on include Queer Coffee Hour and Queer Crafternoon. Here, students are invited to drop in and have conversations with the Pride Center Educators and discuss what they’re drinking or what current craft project they’re working on.
Chrystian Smith (she/they), a fourth-year political science and history double major, said these events are also designed knowing that students are all experiencing burnout and Zoom fatigue, and are meant to be a reprieve from the demands of school.
“There’s the level of burnout that comes with each passing virtual event that we have to put on, and the realization that a lot of our attendees are also facing burnout and may not want to come in the first place. But I think what really keeps us motivated with hosting these events is, we do get our regulars. We know that we make an impact in their lives,” Smith said. “What really keeps me going is knowing that I also have a supportive team behind me, and we all have the same goal of helping the same population on campus. We know with each passing event, we’re making a difference.”
Brenda Drew said how overcoming the initial fear of entering the Pride Center was one of the best decisions they made.
“I’m kicking myself in the butt because I really missed out on some of the fun opportunities. I could have had access to friends and community and family a lot earlier if I had just walked in, and I think that’s something that I’d really like to kind of stress to the community. They are like my friends and our family here is pretty cool. It’s a community that you can’t get anywhere else.”
The Pride Center also offers seminar series that focus on a specific topic and usually feature guest speakers. Recent series have been on Mental Health, Healthy Eating and “APIDA Queer Love in the Time of COVID-19”.
Chrystian Smith said that in their time as a Pride Center Educator, working and connecting with other resource centers has been crucial.
“We are expanding our already pretty strong foundations and intersectionality. We’re expanding events like BlacQ Space, which is for queer black individuals. We’re also collaborating with the APIDA Center regularly as well as the Latinx Resource Center,” Chrystian Smith said. “We’re trying to make sure that not only we’re just reaching the queer community at large, but individual communities that need more specific attention and help and advocacy.”
The Pride Center hosts events covering a wide range of topics all semester long. Their website can be found here and they promote upcoming events on their Instagram page.