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Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart

Alumni Spotlight: Naomi Washington-Leapheart (she/her) C’04

What brings you back to be involved in the center?
I wasn’t out while I was at Penn. I knew that I was something other than straight, but I didn’t have any language to help me articulate how I could keep my faith commitments AND be Black AND be queer. I want to be involved in the center today because I know that there are students who feel like I felt. I want to support them as they try to negotiate identities that have been framed as contradictory. I’m a Black, queer, Christian minister. I exist. So can they.

What does the LGBT Center at Penn mean to you?
It’s really amazing that the Center has pioneered the way for LGBTQ inclusion and radical hospitality in colleges and universities for so many years. I feel like it’s part of my responsibility to make sure the Center thrives, and to make sure that the Center offers programming that resonates particularly with Black, Brown, and indigenous queer and trans folks — often, we’re invisible, fetishized, or held in contempt in LGBTQ spaces. The Center can help to eradicate that.