You helped to make the LGBT Center what is it today. How we fully actualize and support individuals who come through our doors today is due in no small part to those who have come before. The Center is nothing without you. The Center is you. Our Center is a direct reflection and representation of those who use our shared space.
At the Center, we do not understand alumni as being a fixed identity or status. Much like gender and sexuality (and most social statuses) being an alumnus is fluid. You may have graduated this past May, or maybe you graduated in the Spring of 1967, like Tom Wilson Weinberg, who is our featured alumni in this inaugural issue. Being an alumnus of Penn means that you graciously graduated from Penn. It also means that you are still welcome, affirmed, nurtured, and valued in the Center.
Janet Mock may have said it best, “I think of family as community. I think of the spaces where you don’t have to shrink yourself, where you don’t have to pretend or perform. You can fully show up and be vulnerable and in silence, completely empty, and that’s enough. You show up, as you are, without judgment, without ridicule, without fear or violence, or policing, or containment. And you can be there, and you’re filled all the way up. So, we get to choose our families. We are not limited by biology. We get to make ourselves, and we get to make our families .”
The Center exists as a second home, a refuge from the cis-heteronormative expectations of the outside world. As you helped us form our space in this way, we have – and always will – understand you as part of our chosen family. It is no mistake the Center’s motto is, “you belong.”
In a more concentrated effort to make sure you experience the love, value, and nurturance the Center has for you and our current students, we created this quarterly newsletter. It does not even have a name yet – we were so excited to reach out and rebuild our connection. (One of the first things we would like to do together is to figure out a name for this newsletter — send us suggestions!) Each quarter we will share highlights and happenings of our communities, the Center, and most importantly, our student, staff, faculty, and alumni family.
Welcome, again, to the Center. You belong.
Erin, Malik, Sam, and Loran