Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Jim Chalgren LGBT Center will celebrate its 40th anniversary Wednesday, April 11 with a dinner and a program in room 253 of the Centennial Student Union.
There will be videos of alumni, a special musical performance and guest speakers reflecting on the history of the university’s LGBT Center and their experiences with it. The Music Department will be performing two special pieces for this event. They also collected videos of alumni and what the LGBT Center meant to them.
The center’s mission is to provide support, advocacy, referral and a sense of community to LGBTQQA students. Every year the center puts on events and educational programming to continue to spread their message of acceptance and peace while working to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to learn, work, and grow.
“We want to properly celebrate such an extraordinary accomplishment,” said Jessica Flatequal, the director of gender and sexuality programs at MNSU. “We also wanted to celebrate our alumni, the Chalgren family, the students that hang out in the LGBTQ center and all of the administrators, staff and faculty that have supported the LGBTQ center throughout the years.”
The LGBT center started as a safe haven on campus, and has grown into an important, diverse resource to MNSU. It is now an independent office at the university and it is located in the Centennial Student Union.
The LGBT Center was dedicated in 2008. At that time, MNSU was named one of the top LGBT campuses in the nation. Jim Chalgren founded the LGBT Center in 1977. It was known as the Alternative Lifestyles office, according to the LGBT Center’s webpage.
It was only the second safe haven center for LGBT individuals in a U.S. university when it was founded. Chalgren was a graduate student in the counseling and student personnel program at MNSU. He went on to be an activist and a leader in the future.
“This is such a historical space. Mankato paved the way, and who would have thought that Mankato would pave the way in such a progressive cause,” Flatequal said. “This is a space that people will utilize to be successful in college and to live a full life. Now we see hundreds of LGBT centers throughout the nation that follow in Mankato’s footsteps.”
This event and the LGBT center is important to Flatequal because there is not a lot of support out-side of our campus for folks in the community.
“Mankato might seem like a small town if you come from a bigger city, but we are actually quite a big city for students coming from smaller and more rural communities,” Flatequal said.
This means that some LGBT individuals from smaller areas may not have met many people like them in the past. It is important to meet others who are like oneself as it helps individuals to not feel judged and to feel safe being who they are.
This event will help to display some of the most important parts of the LGBT center: advocacy, support and a sense of community. This event will showcase how the LGBT center has grown on campus, and what makes it unique.