For more than 10 years, the LGBT Center at the University of Louisville has provided support, educational resources and advocacy to UofL students and the community at large. Each day, the staff works to strengthen and sustain an inclusive campus community and welcome people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
On Nov. 9, Pride at the Museum, the inaugural signature fundraiser for the LGBT Center, will take place at the Speed Art Museum. To learn more, we spoke with the center’s Executive Director Brian Buford.
What to Expect
“This will be a night full of entertainment from some of our city’s best talent in the most beautiful space,” said Buford. Performers will include the Louisville Ballet, Karan Chavis, Louisville Orchestra Conductor Teddy Abrams, All is Fair in Love and Fashion, Keith McGill and drag performers from PLAY Louisville. An open bar and food and drink stations will be provided courtesy of Wiltshire Pantry, Heaven Hill, Against the Grain, Goodwood Brewing and the Mocktail Project.
While creating a delightful event, the LGBT Center’s team isn’t losing sight of the big picture. “Although we are creating a space for fun and socializing, it’s really about something greater,” affirmed Buford. “(We’re) making sure that LGBTQ young people overcome the obstacles and succeed. The night will benefit the LGBT Center at UofL and make sure that we can continue supporting students and helping them reach their goal of graduating and realizing their full potential. We, of course, want to say thanks to Terri Bass and the Bass Family Foundation as title sponsors of the event and as allies to our students.”
“Our hope is that during the night, we can raise the funds to continue offering all the programs, scholarships, services and support that our students desperately need,” explained Buford. “The LGBT Center meets a critical need by buffering against all the risk factors facing LGBTQ youth. They are at high risk for dropping out, attempting suicide, becoming homeless and being the most bullied in their high schools. And sadly, they are sometimes rejected from their families and lose the parental support that they need. So we need to fill that gap and make sure they are successful. We hope our guests will become collaborators by supporting the center’s work.”
“UofL has come so far since we opened the center in 2007, with me in a part-time position and nothing but a small janitor’s closet for an office,” Buford said. “Now, we have a team of six and vibrant centers on both the Belknap and Health Sciences campuses, and we are doing work that is gaining national attention.”
One example of this groundbreaking work is the center’s partnership with UofL’s School of Medicine to develop a nationally-recognized LGBTQ curriculum called eQuality, which “is teaching doctors how to compassionately and competently care for LGBTQ patients,” Buford said. “(They’re) also improving patient care nationally by teaching other medical schools best clinical practices. We have also developed the eQuality Toolkit: a brief, concise clinical skills manual that will be published this upcoming year and available to health professional schools and clinicians all over the world to use to improve clinical care.”
Since its start in 2007, the LGBT Center has worked with community partners to establish six LGBT-themed scholarships, a themed housing community where LGBTQ residents and allies can live together and study social justice, a campus visit day designed for LGBTQ high school students and a pride week celebration that brings national speakers to campus such as Janet Mock, Jose Antonio Vargas and this year, Nyle Dimarco.
Leaders in Inclusion
In recent years, UofL has earned accolades for being one of the most LGBTQ inclusive campuses in the nation. The LGBT Center intends to continue this legacy and make further progress.
“We have a pretty ambitious five-year plan for 2020 that takes us to the next level in terms of inclusion,” Buford said. “As our president wisely says, we appreciate these accolades and love seeing UofL make the news as one of the most inclusive campuses in the country, but (we) aren’t stopping there. Some of the areas where we want to grow include creating a more robust program that recognizes the unique needs of LGBTQ students of color, realizing our vision of an LGBTQ medical clinic – where our students can practice and where community members can receive competent care – and continuing to build a network among the LGBT Centers in the region so that we are supporting and sharing with one another.
“Doing this work in the South is different than in other parts of the country, so we have to rally together as allies,” he concluded. “We do that well with the University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University, and we want to be leaders in bringing the region together.” VT
Pride at the Museum
Speed Art Museum
7 p.m. Nov. 9
Supporter and Ally Terri Bass
Pride at the Museum is presented by Terri Bass, Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty & the Bass Family Foundation. Terri Bass has witnessed firsthand the effects the LGBT Center’s work can have on an individual.
“I had a daughter who came back from college and then went to UofL for a couple semesters,” she said. “She was really unsure about what was going on in her life at the time. I attribute the inclusive community for the LGBT for inspiring her to be who she is. She had not come out before that.”
The Bass Family Foundation, started by Sonny and Gladys Bass, has long supported the university and made major donations. Now, the family is proud to contribute and help further the work of the LGBT Center.
“The Bass Family Foundation was started by my husband Steven’s parents,” Terri explained. “They have always been very generous and have had a compassionate spirit.”
In addition to working with UofL, Terri began the Kentucky Chapter of The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP). Through her work with Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty, she consistently works to build NAGLREP’s referral network of realtors, title companies, lenders, designers and other professionals.
Looking forward, Terri hopes to see the center grow and watch more students experience the profound impact it can have.
“I think it’s timely for this to be occurring and hopefully it will inspire other people,” she said. “I’ve seen the benefit through both of my daughters, who are both gay. I still see children and young adults who still don’t have that support from their family or anyone in their community. There has to be someplace where they can know that they’re supported and loved.”