GSC @ 10: A Timeline of Our History
The development of the GSC began before its doors opened, in feminist and queer campus movements of the early 1970s through the 2000s. Students needed and advocated for space for women and LGBTQIA communities. In August of 2004, with support from the Dean of Students Teresa Brett, Student Government President Brian Haley, and Vice President Sly Majid, the Interim Gender and Sexuality Center opened in a small office on the first floor of the Student Services Building. Since then, the GSC has moved three times and now serves students in a vibrant space at the center of campus in the Student Activity Center.
- GSC Origin: The Gender and Sexuality Center opened in the fall of 2004 with support from Student Government, the Dean of Students Office, and the Student Services Budget Committee, which provided the initial funding to establish the center.
- August 2004 – Opening Doors for the First Time: The Women’s Resource Center and the GLBTAAA, both agencies within Student Government, were instrumental in establishing the GSC. The GSC, which was initially called the Interim Gender and Sexuality Center, opened its doors in a small conference room on the first floor of the Student Services Building.
- January 28, 2005 – GSC Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: “It’s just a room with a couple of computers, a small library, and encouraging posters. But the fact that it exists, that the physical energy is finally coming together is really exciting,” said Ana Ixchel Rosal, director of the new Gender and Sexuality Center.
- September 2005 – Living With Pride Program Launch: The Gender and Sexuality Center hosted its first series of programs, the Living with Pride series, aimed at promoting healthy living for the LGBTQ and ally communities. Efforts to offer the Living with Pride series earlier had been rejected at UT.
- October 2005 – National Young Women’s Day of Action: The GSC launched a new program, an annual luncheon celebrating young women’s activism. The first speaker was Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly, who had recently become the new Dean of Students at UT in the Fall.
- GSC Contributes to UT-Austin’s Reputation as an Inclusive Campus: UT is ranked among the top 100 LGBT friendly universities in the 2006 Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students.
- January 15, 2006 – GSC Moves to its Third Location: GSC moved to a new space in the Student Services Building, “out of the closet” and into a larger space to accommodate the growing popularity of the center. Traffic to the new space increases 400% from the previous year.
- January 2007-May 2007 – GSC Begins Hosting Regular Screenings: The GSC began screenings of queer films and television shows, featuring a weekly viewing of The “L” Word. The screenings encouraged students to relax in a social environment while viewing movies focusing on sexuality and/or gender issues. Each screening featured moderated discussions and debriefs with participants after viewing the films.
- Establishment of DDCE: Under the leadership of President Powers, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement was established at UT. The DDCE was established as part of President Powers’ administrative agenda. The DDCE was created on a four-pillar strategic plan to target campus culture, community engagement, the education pipeline, and research. The broad array of units incorporated into the plan included the GSC, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, and the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence.
- September 2007 – GSC Creates Educational Coordinator Position: Shane Whalley joined the GSC staff as the center’s first education coordinator. Using a social justice framework, the education program seeks to meet UT Austin students, faculty, and staff, as well as Austin community members, “where they are” and increase their awareness, knowledge level and skills as allies and advocates for the women’s and LGBT communities. To date, the education program has provided training to approximately 20,000 people on campus.
- Peers for Pride Program Launch: Peers for Pride (PfP) is a peer facilitation program offered for academic credit through a partnership between the GSC and the School of Social Work. Peers for Pride is a cornerstone of the Education Progarm in the GSC. Students learn theater techniques and facilitation skills enabling them to conduct workshops that explore the lives of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. The student facilitators write and perform monologues, answering questions from the audience as their monologue characters. PfP facilitators have performed in UT residence halls, at Explore UT, during orientation advisor training, for multicultural sororities and fraternities and in academic courses across campus as well as at national conferences.
- May 15, 2008 – Lavender Graduation: The GSC and the Queer Students Alliance hosted the first-ever Lavender Graduation at UT-Austin. The ceremony has become a highlight of the academic year for faculty, staff, students and community members across campus because it is an opportunity to honor students, as well as bring together the LGBTQ and ally community on campus and from the greater Austin area.
- Campus Climate Response Team: Beginning in 2009, Ixchel Rosal, Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center, contributed as a member of the Campus Climate Response Work Group to examine critical issues and make recommendations for advancing diversity on campus, including the establishment of the Campus Climate Response Team in 2011.
- Barbara Jordan Statue Project: Ixchel Rosal, Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center, served on the Barbara Jordan Statue Advisory Committee, which was a project of the student organization called Orange Jackets. The idea for the statue had emerged seven years earlier from students concerned about the need for a female statue on campus. Unveiled on April 24, 2009, the statue is located at 24th and Whitis Streets. Read more about the project.
- November 17, 2009 – The GSC Celebrates 5 Fabulous Years: As part of a series of programs to celebrate the center’s first five years, the GSC co-presented sociologist and renowned activist Andrea Smith to give a talk on “The Lives of Indigenous Women in a ‘Post-Racial’ and ‘Post-Feminist’ World.”
- March 5, 2010 – GSC Hosts Gender Performance Workshop: The GSC started hosting the Gender Performance Workshop to create a safe space for students to explore gender expressions through wigs, facial hair, and make-up. Like all GSC events and programming, the Gender Performance Workshop fosters an environment for self actualization through outward expression.
- March 25, 2010 – The Panza Monologues Special Appearance: “The Panza Monologues,” written, compiled, and collected by Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga, features the words of Chicanas speaking with humor and candor about their bodies and lives.The play was brought to UT by the GSC in 2010 as a tour-de-force solo performance (performed by Grise, directed and designed by Mayorga). The performance was free and open to the public and led the publishing of the play by UT Press.
- April 1, 2010 – The GSC Presents: Hidden Voices: The Lives of LGBT Muslims: Faisal Alam is a gay Pakistani American who founded the Al-Fatiha Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing the cause of gay, lesbian, and transgender Muslims. His talk, “Hidden Voices,” aimed to highlight the many challenges facing sexual and gender minorities within the Muslim world and to examine the complex intersection of Islam, sexuality, and gender.
- April 16-18, 2010 – The First Feminist Action Project Conference: The GSC staff taught a course on Third Wave Feminism on the UT campus. As a follow-up to that class, the Feminist Action Project was founded as a student organization in the GSC in 2009. FAP organized their first conference in 2010 entitled, “Examining Intersections, Building Alliances”, and featuring keynote speaker Jehmu Greene, president of the Women’s Media Center. The vision of the conference was to create space in which feminists can meet, network, and workshop ideas for Feminist activism. The event was held over three days and contained lectures, panels, and workshops.
- GSC Moves to the Student Activity Center: The GSC moved again to accommodate the increasing use of the space. The new location in the SAC was and is a prominent position on campus near Student Government and the Multicultural Engagement Center. The increased accessibility, visibility, and institutional status has resulted in students using the space for socializing, studying, and organization meetings, ballooning the rate of use to several times that of the previous space.
- July 1-21, 2011 – Student Services Budget Committee Sees Values of GSC: Legislative threats to defund centers like the GSC surfaced just four months prior to this approval for allocation of funds to the GSC. This approval for continued funding from Student Services budgeting was a crucial moment in GSC history, particularly since this was the only source of funding for the center at that time. The GSC was among 5 university organizations selected to receive more funding from Student Services Budget Committee.
- September 21, 2011 – Dedication of Ana Sisnett Library: The GSC’s library was named for Ana Sisnett, an Austin-based writer, artist and activist. A former UT student, Sisnett was affectionately as Technomama” for her work increasing academic and technological literacy through underserved Austin communities. During the GSC open house, a library rededication ceremony honored Ana Sisnett’s life. Friends of Ana and the GSC responded warmly to the new dedication and the Austin Chronicle recognized Ana Sisnett and the GSC with its 2011 award, “Best Naming of a Library.”
- Program Coordinator Position Created in GSC: Liz Elsen joined the staff of the GSC as the first Program Coordinator of the space. Under Liz’s leadership the profile of the space as a Women’s Center has increased dramatically. In addition to curating and organizing GSC programming, Elsen advises a variety of student groups including The Feminist Action Project, The Student Leadership Committee, The Awesome Bisexual Collective, and University Nerdfighters. She is also on the executive board for The Pride and Equity Faculty Staff Association. Most importantly, she has gained the trust and confidence of the many students who seek her advice and counsel on a daily basis.
- February 10, 2012 – Building Collaborative Relationships: In collaboration with the Multicultural Engagement Center, the GSC helps cosponsor QPOCA’s (Queer People of Color & Allies) inaugural Gloria Anzaldúa luncheon. Cherríe Moraga, renowned poet, playwright, and scholar, launched the now-annual tradition honoring feminists of color. In this inaugural year, the event also included a writing workshop by Moraga, and a visual art exhibit featuring the work of Celia Herrera y Rodríguez at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection Library.
- March 6, 2012 – Knowledge And Noms Program is Inaugurated: Brought to the GSC by Program Coordinator Liz Elsen, Knowledge and Noms is a brown bag educational and social series. The program brings campus and community resources to the students’ space in the Center for a quick training and Q&A.
- September 11, 2012 – First Ever GSC Gender and Size Inclusive Clothing Swap: GSC hosted its first gender and size inclusive clothing swap. The event was so successful it expanded into once a semester event including books and accessories.
- March 5, 2013 – GSC Speaker Series: “I am Desi and Queer” with Raja Bhattar: Can a person be South Asian and Queer?! What do the Hindu scriptures say about homosexuality? What is it like to be a Queer Person of Color (QPOC) in a community dominated by images of white, gay men?! At this event, the campus community was invited to listen to one man’s journey to understand his queer, spiritual and ethnic identities. Raja shared stories of being raised in a traditional Hindu religious community, growing up in the U.S., and the struggle to balance both worlds. Funny, yet poignant, Raja’s story gave a unique perspective, often invisible in mainstream South Asian and Queer cultures.
- September 16, 2013 – First Ever Feminist Friday: The Feminist Fridays program was developed to bring together feminists from across campus to discuss relevant and contemporary issues in a safe space. Topics are brainstormed at the beginning of the year. Taking place every Friday from 1-2pm, topics have included “my feminist beginnings”, “intersectional feminism”, and an annual conversation every Halloween about sexist, racist, and transphobic costumes.
- The GSC Participates in the Growing BeVocal Program Run by the Wellness Network: The GSC broadened its reach by partnering with the campus program BeVocal: The Bystander Intervention Initiative of The University of Texas at Austin. By participating in awareness-raising events and bystander intervention trainings, the GSC has supported BeVocal’s aim to create a shared understanding of bystander intervention that can be infused into existing departments and programs across campus.
- October 1, 2014 – National Young Women’s Day of Action: Mia McKenzie, author and creator of the blog Black Girl Dangerous, was the featured speaker at our annual National Young Women’s Day of Action luncheon. Rather than present a prepared talk, McKenzie engaged the audience with a nontraditional Q & A session using the progressive stack technique, taking questions and answering them thoughtfully.
- December 3, 2014 – Musings of a #lonelyfeminist: The Feminist Action Project released their fourth zine with “undefining feminism” as the theme. Zines were distributed at the release party, which doubled as a venue through which contributors were able to perform their work. Previous issues are available in the UT Digital Repository.
- The GSC Celebrates 10 Years: The history of the GSC is still in the making! To celebrate the ten year anniversary, the GSC is hosting a series of ten events over the 2014-2015 school year. Contribute to the fundraising campaign to ensure many more years of the GSC!