The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success to hold 30th Anniversary Gayla


Shreya Varrier

The Center will celebrate 30 years of its existence on campus with a gala on Wednesday, March 29.

While it can be easy to think about the battles that are lost, Susan Harper, the director of The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success, hopes to create a night of celebration with a Gayla to honor the community that made 30 years of The Center possible.

“When I talked to my alumni who were here in the 70s, 60s, they said ‘you know, I never believed that there would have been a space like this,” Harper said. “We want to take a moment and just thank everybody who’s managed to get us this far.”

The Center was founded in 1982 and is one of the oldest centers of its kind in the country, according to Harper.

“We started out literally in, you know, what was basically a closet, and with a grad student who staffed the place like 10 or 15 hours a week,” Harper said. “Then, it grew over time as students wanted bigger and bigger spaces.”

Harper said the first full-time employee joined in 2008, and that now there are two full-time professional staff working at the center.

The gala, for Harper, is a way to celebrate the growth of The Center and its community through the years.

“We talk a lot about how important joy and queer joy is in the spaces,” Harper said. “We wanted to have a night where we can just get together and yeah, and be joyful about this anniversary.”

The gala will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union Wednesday, March 29.

“I kind of thought about, like, maybe we’ll have something in the same spirit once a year,” Harper said. “But our next big one will be 40 [years].”

Everyone is welcome to attend and entrance is free. The event will include light appetizers and beverages. Harper said the dress code is to wear what makes you feel fabulous.

A DJ will perform along with The Des Moines Gay Men’s Choir. There will also be speakers, including Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen.

“I’m actually really excited about the choir,” Harper said. “They’re getting ready to do a show that commemorates the battles fought and won for civil and human rights.”

Harper said there will be a moment to thank the alumni donors who have made six scholarships from The Center office possible.

“We want to take a moment and just thank everybody who’s managed to get us this far,” Harper said. “To building us towards where there was a need and a want and the demand for a space like this, and the university listened.”