For students like junior at Mankato State, Matt Bohm, the inviting and comforting backbone that the LGBTQ+ community provides is valuable, and fulfills the emotional need for acceptance.
“I’m lucky to have so much support from both inside and outside [the community], especially from people who went through similar experiences,” Bohm said.
Since 1977, the LGBT center at MSU has been striving to fulfill this sense of belonging, with events like the Decades Ball that took place Friday 7-10 p.m. in the CSU Ballroom.
Interim Director of the LGBT Center, Stephen Thomas, conducted the event that celebrated pride throughout the decades. “It’s really just a way for people to dress up, be a little different, and have their own sense of style,” Thomas said.
The night consisted of good food and company, paired with a healthy amount of dancing. Students were also able to snap a memorable picture inside a photo booth.
DJ Ultralight Entertainment provided the music, a company that is involved with the LGBTQ+ community.
“My purpose was to make sure the DJ was part of the queer community so that I’m able to shine light on a more diverse company,” Thomas said.
A costume contest also took place and one lucky student was gifted a Maverick hockey jersey for their decade attire, which is fitting considering the team secured the trophy for the Mason Cup the following night.
Thomas, who displayed an 80’s look for the evening, noticed how the university lacked school dances since the COVID-19 pandemic. He graciously volunteered the LGBTQ+ center to potentially start events like this back up and running.
“When I look around the room, if I see smiles and less people on their phones, that’s when I know that it’s a success,” Thomas said.
Thomas finds strength in numbers as he intends for the center to continue to gather and celebrate what it means to be a part of a community that embraces its differences.
“I always see it as just like a family,” Thomas said. “I see it as a way where people can express who they are cognitively, and sometimes not cognitively, and that’s why I’m here.”
The LGBTQ+ center prepares for future events, including the Semi-Annual drag show April 5, T-shirt dying later in April, and a lavender graduation to top off the semester April 28.
The drag show will provide a cast of queens, as well as invite students at MSU to perform if they would like.
The lavender graduation will honor graduates that wish to represent or support the queer community.
Thomas desires for the center on campus to extend a further hand in Mankato, as students, faculty, and anyone in the local area is able to utilize what the institution provides.
“Recently a lot of students in the LGBTQ+ community, they only feel like this [the LGBT center] is their safe space, but I focus on making sure that the whole university is a safe and welcoming environment as well,” Thomas said. “I want to make sure that this isn’t just for us within the LGBTQ+ community, this is for us, within the community of the university.”
Students can contact Thomas if they have an interest in future events and want to participate. Contact him at Stephen.email@example.com for more details.
Header Photo: The CSU Ballroom was home to a Decades Ball last Friday, thrown by the LGBT Center. The event offered many queer students the solace they’ve always wanted, as well as a fun dance party. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
Write to Mercedes Kauphusman at firstname.lastname@example.org