Since its formation in 2004, the LGBTQ Center has been located on the third floor of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center. But last year, the University announced plans to transition the center to Stonewall House, a newly renovated location at 22 Benevolent St., by fall 2022, The Herald previously reported.
This new location, which is directly across from Keeney Quadrangle and next to the Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender, will offer the center an array of academic and social spaces for increased programming, Kelly Garrett, recently departed director of the center, and Caitlin O’Neill, senior assistant director, wrote in an email to The Herald.
The center will officially move into the new space later this semester.
Stonewall House “will allow us to … (host) guest scholars, activists and artists, (do) workshops and (hold) smaller community-building events while also providing more space for students to study, have meetings and enjoy connecting with others,” they wrote.
The relatively limited space in the center’s current location has created COVID-19 concerns among students, said Sophia Patti ’26, who serves as the social chair of Queer Alliance, a student organization that provides identity-based programming for members of Brown’s LGBTQ+ community.
“The (current) center is … really tiny. You can’t really fit more than 10 to 15 people comfortably in the main room,” Patti said. “Some people aren’t comfortable eating in such an enclosed space, and a lot of social events do revolve around sharing a meal together.”
Danae Lopez ’25, who started working at the LGBTQ Center last year and currently serves as the digital communications and publicity coordinator, said that the center’s current lack of space has forced staff to find alternative locations to hold events.
Given the current center’s limitations, Patti and Lopez agreed that their excitement for the new center stems, in part, from the additional space that will be available.
“We get to have more events and actually invite more people.” Lopez said. “Now we get to do a lot of events like game nights and big movie nights, (and) have more performers, speakers and scholars.”
“Brown has a lot of people who identify as queer or LGBTQ+ and it’s really wonderful that we’re going to have the opportunity to have bigger spaces and more opportunities for people to hang out there and feel comfortable,” Patti said. “Having this new location allows you to have more people and still be respectful of COVID guidelines.”
The new center’s proximity to the Sarah Doyle Center may help foster collaboration between the two spaces, said Felicia Salinas-Moniz, the director of the Sarah Doyle Center. “The staff and I at the Sarah Doyle Center are very excited to have the LGBTQ Center as our new neighbor.”
Salinas-Moniz pointed to previous collaborations between the two centers over the years. This semester, the two began co-supervising the new Women, Gender and Sexuality Peer Counselor role, which replaced Women’s Peer Counselors.
For Patti, the collaboration between the LGBTQ Center and the Sarah Doyle Center allows for further intersectionality in the centers’ programming.
“There is a lot of overlap between a lot of these groups,” they said. “People (often) don’t fit into one category or feel like they belong in only one of these groups, and so I think this proximity is also super exciting.”
In describing their hopes for the future, Garrett and O’Neill pointed out the historical nature of the center’s name, which was selected by the Gledhill family, a major donor for the new center.
“We hope that the beautiful and newly renovated space will be enjoyed by all as we continue to work with students, faculty and staff to make Brown a more inclusive campus,” they wrote. “It is no coincidence that the Gledhill family chose to name our new home Stonewall House as a tribute to the Stonewall Rebellion in the summer of 1969, which has become a symbol of the struggle for LGBTQ rights, which highlights the significant contributions of trans organizers and activists of color across the globe.”