The LGBTQ Resource Center on Main Campus has moved its operations to a larger, more accessible location at 1919 Las Lomas NE to expand on its mission to serve the University of New Mexico LGBTQ community.
Selina Aleztia Del-Hierro Villa, a student worker at the resource center and manager of the group, UNM Queer Trans People of Color, said the move will help the center serve more people.
“People with disabilities were not able to access us, because we were downstairs, and we didn't have an elevator, so we wanted a more ground-level location,” Villa said. “Something that was a little bigger, since we do provide a good amount of resources to a large population of students on campus.”
Part of the mission of the resource center is to promote healthy relationships in the LGBTQ community. For students, the center can serve a crucial role for students navigating university life and personal relationships.
Jordan Anderson, a junior at UNM, described how the center helped her through a time of transition and challenge.
“I went in when I was actually recovering from an abusive ex-girlfriend, so I was super shy and nervous,” she said. “But interacting with people as open and accepting as the people there helped me heal and come back out of my shell. I never used counseling or official services, but just meeting new people of like mind helped jumpstart a healing process for me.”
One important aspect of the center’s services is that they provide confidential reporting, meaning they are not obligated to report abuse or other sensitive information to higher authorities.
“It's a very safe space, because sometimes people don't want to be referred to anyone or reported; they just need someone to talk to,” Villa said. “Or maybe they do need help — it honestly just depends on what the situation is. We are not going to force anything upon them that they don’t want.”
Students are encouraged to visit the center when confronted with difficult personal situations or problematic relationships, Villa said.
The center has hosted many events over the years meant to address stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding LGBTQ relationships. This year, as part of UNM’s Sex Week, the resource center and UNM QTPOC will be hosting an event called “Fighting the Stigma of Abuse in Queer Relationships” on Friday, Oct. 27 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We are going to discuss why the stigma is present, which is because of the lack of representation of queer-trans relationships in the media and in general. We are going to talk about the different types of abuse, we are going to talk about self care, how to deal with coming out of a relationship, and also just provide resources,” Villa said.
Villa and others at the center hope the move will allow them to host more events like this and create a stronger sense of community among LGBTQ students.
Gabriella Rivera is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter as @gabbychlamps.