Decades of Pride: Celebrating LGBTQ+ on campus

“Pride means authentically living with love rather than shame in who you are,” says Barb Kistler, the woman and staff member — directly involved with the beginnings ofLGBTQ+ support and visibility at CSU.

On Oct. 20, the CSU Pride Resource Center will be celebrating 20 years as an established organization on campus. The Pride Center has been unofficially on campus since 1971, when the first meeting of a small LGBTQ student organization was held in a storage closet in the basement of the Lory Student Center. The Pride Center has come a long way since its inception, and this fall’s celebration is but one on a long path towards inclusivity.


Kistler, the first director of SLiCE and former staff advisor for the first LGBTQ student organization at CSU, remembers what the environment for queer and trans people was like over 50 years ago when she was engaged in student involvement and support.

“Gays and Lesbians were one the first officially recognized LGBT student organizations in the country,” says Kistler, who pioneered the group in the early ‘70s. During that time, Kistler only knew of one other staff member who was publicly “out.” Even so, Kistler says that staff and faculty were always working very hard to get a full-time advocacy office established, which took hold in 1998.

The Pride Center has been working with staff and faculty since its inception, including the donations and volunteer support from staff that assisted in starting up the center.


In the years that the Pride Resource Center has existed, it has adapted several times over the years to now serve as the beacon for the LGBTQ+ community. It has been relocated numerous times, developed various visions and mission statements, been assimilate into the Student Diversity Programs and Services cluster at the LSC (which includes other diverse centers, such as El Centro and the Asian/ Pacific American Cultural Center) and, most notably, has undergone several name changes to finally arrive at the recognizable name of “Pride Resource Center.”

“The Pride Center underwent the important work of a title shift,” said Dora Frias, director of the Pride Center. “We found a name that wasn’t a mouthful and that still made sense for our community. We’re figuring out  still what it means to be the Pride Resource Center, but there’s a thoughtful and intentional process to make sure  that folks feel welcome, included and that they see themselves represented in this space.”

As the Pride Center celebrates its 20th Anniversary at CSU and Frias completes her first full year as the director, conversation regarding the Center’s future is the new focus. Emily Ambrose, former assistant director of the Pride Resource Center, expresses how inclusivity continues to be the vision of the Pride Center.

“Our values align with individuals being able to reach their full potential,” says Ambrose. “To do that we need to feel loved and affirmed in a variety of different ways.”

The Pride Center is working to extend these opportunities in the coming years, as  Frias affirms that the center will be addressing intersectional identitieses through programming, increasing support for the trans community and focusing on donor outreach to expand our services.

At the 20th Anniversary Celebration, Oct. 20, 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. in the LSC Theatre the Pride Resource Center will be hosting Mariachi Arcoiris, the only LGBTQ+ Mariachi group in the country, to address how important these issues of intersectionality are.  The event will also feature student and faculty keynote speakers during the dinner and celebration.

Registration for the event must be completed by Oct. 10, through the Pride Resource Center’s website. The event is free for students, and $15 for staff and faculty membersTheeventwillbeacceptingdonationsthrough the website as well.