Activism Through LGBTQ+ Centers

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The sound of presenters at the Ohio University LGBT Center discussing craftivism rings through the room. Today’s craft is feminist banners, and the participants challenge their peers for short but witty words to display in their craft. The center is quite literally the center for a lot of activism at Ohio University from members taking part in rallies and other events, to being a safe space for young gay activists to unwind and recharge, and by simply existing.


“Just the physical presence or someone wearing a rainbow pin whether they identify as LGBT or not is a form of activism because we’re told that we’re not good enough,” the LGBT Center director said. “We’re told that we shouldn’t be here; we shouldn’t exist. And so just by being present, we’re shaking things up.”


Meet delfin bautista: they call themself the ‘Head Queer’ of the LGBT center on Ohio University’s campus, and to bautista, teaching and learning are the forms of activism they most closely follow.


“Activism for me is an academic discipline and academics is a form of activism anrd sort of bridging those two worlds in multiple different ways,” bautista said.

An activist for several years, bautista has been involved with many different forms of activism, and they feel like activism can take on even the most simple of forms.


“I’ve been in the rallies and the marches. And those are important, but not everyone has the ability to be able to participate in those types of things….encouraging folks to work on a project like this even for an LGBT class is a form of activism,” bautista said. “It’s a form of raising awareness. When we do speak up outside of safe zones, that’s a form of activism.”


Other leaders of other centers, such as Randy Phillips, the president of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center, agree with bautista in saying that simply having a center can be a form of activism, especially in today’s day and age.


“Particularly in our current social climate we always have to be on guard for…. the type of people that would always try to stand up against you and certainly our current political climate is one that is apt to do so,” Phillips said. “So it’s more important that people can come together, feel safe and then stand up for their own rights. “


But not everyone sees agrees with bautista and Phillips’s perspective.


“My name is Olivia Busby. I’m a fifth year senior studying screenwriting, producing and African American studies,” Busby said. “I use she/her pronouns and I’m the project coordinator at the LGBT Center.”


Busby has a slightly different view on the role of an LGBT center.


“I think it’s a necessary thing, but I don’t think simply having the center is activism…but just having a center like the one we have now where there’s like an active, there’s a constant action to make sure that it’s inclusive and being seen and being in the community as well as welcome people here. I think that’s the activism part,” Busby said.


Being inclusive is a huge part of the Ohio University LGBT center, and it is that inclusivity that allows all young activists to feel welcome, and ready to unwind and relax.


“A lot of the LGBT activists on campus come here to re-energize, to ‘throw shade’ and to like vent and laugh and know that they have a space where they are supported,” bautista said. “They may not have that support in every space they exist in, but here they do.”


Whatever the form that activism may take on, the goal is always the same. And if you ask bautista, they would tell you that strides continue to be made towards a more equal and non-discriminatory world.


“Things are changing. Everything from marriage equality to non-discrimination laws to presence in the media and so that said, there’s still a lot of work to be done,” bautista said. “I would love to work myself out of a job and be able to shut down the center because it’s no longer needed in the way that it’s needed now.”