By Rei Taylor —

I first came out as bisexual at the age of 11. Later, I came out again as pansexual, which was less of a coming out and more of a clarification. Now, at 18, I am an active member in Louisville’s LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning) scene and an advocate for gay rights, just like the University of Louisville.

Being voted several times as a top LGBT-friendly university by three national groups, U of L makes an effort to create a supportive and caring environment for LGBTQ students.

“These awards are a direct result of U of L’s commitment to building an inclusive and LGBTQ-friendly environment on campus and in our community,” said U of L President Neeli Bendapudi. “I am so proud of our efforts and look forward to seeing how we continue to grow in the future.”

U of L offers many services for LGBTQ students, such as the Bayard Rustin Community, a housing community based in University Towers Apartments. Being the first of its kind at a Kentucky college or university, it offers a safe living space for LGBTQ and allied students.

Research suggests that membership in a themed housing environment supports student retention and academic success. These residences are extremely beneficial to incoming students, especially LGBTQ students, allowing them to make friends with people without fear of being judged for their sexuality.

Another service U of L offers is Pride Week, a week where the university holds multiple events based around being LGBTQ and LGBTQ culture. With everything from fairs to keynote speakers, U of L pulls out all the stops to engage and involve their LGBTQ students. They offer free food, informational panels, game nights and HIV testing throughout the week, as well as a flag hanging ceremony of two gay pride flags off of the belltower.

They also offer blood drives based around destigmatizing gay men giving blood, something that has been restricted since 1992. This, along with all of the other events, allows visibility for LGBTQ students, creating an open and accepting campus.

Every semester, U of L offers classes based around LGBTQ students and culture. They have diversity classes through the women’s, gender, and sexuality studies department that are made for LGBTQ students to be understood and to create allies. These classes allow students to feel free to discuss their sexuality and gender identities freely in class without fear of judgment.

Overall, the U of L has done an excellent job of being inclusive and accepting of LGBTQ students and allies within the institution.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal