LGBTSS Center changes the meaning of TGIF


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Daily

Ellorah James, sophomore in physics, relaxes in the LGBTSS Center at the Student Services Building. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday. 

Jacey Goetzman

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Student Services Center is redefining TGIF.

In its new program called Thank God I’m Fierce (TGIF) – which occurs on Fridays – the LGBTSS Center hopes to build community and bring new people into its space. It offers activities ranging from feminist coloring books to movie screenings. 

The idea had been in the works for a while, said LGBTSS Center student worker Kristen Enriquez. Enriquez is a junior double majoring in political science and international studies.

“[The first event] was very, very chill,” Enriquez said. “[Everyone] was just having a fun time. It seemed like they were really enjoying spending time with everyone and getting to know [them].”

Clare Lemke, assistant director of the LGBTSS Center, composed the name and the idea of the program. 

“It’s a very simple idea. TGIF, Thank God I’m Fierce, is the idea that we all have a lot of things going on in our lives. Students, as you know, are busy with school and work and activities on campus and all the things that students are involved with,” Lemke said. “So we just wanted to have a time to get together at the end of the week and do something fun and enjoy each other’s company.”

The program creates what Lemke calls a low-key, comfortable environment where people can take some time to relax.

“It’s a simple goal of the program, but I think it’s important,” Lemke said.

The impact of the program is visible, according to Lemke.

“I see people chatting with each other who maybe haven’t interacted before,” Lemke said. “I see students coming to the events who haven’t been into the LGBTSS Center before … It’s a great way for students to connect.”

That connection, according to Lemke, goes farther than those who identify within the LGBT community.

“We serve all of campus,” Lemke said. “All students are welcome in our space regardless of identity.”

Enriquez stressed that the program also provides a safe space.

“You can’t really tell with people what their identity is when it comes to [being] LGBT,” Enriquez said. “So, when you’re in a space like [the LGBTSS Center], you know that you are welcome and that there are going to be people here like you.”

The program operates on a weekly basis. A different activity is provided every Friday afternoon. This Friday, participants of TGIF will decorate cupcakes with pride flags. 

At the end of the program, Lemke hopes students continue to come and have a space where they can meet someone or learn something new.

Enriquez agreed.

“[I hope that the students who attend TGIF] can come into the space when it’s not TGIF and feel like they are welcome,” Enriquez said. “[I also hope] that they met people here who they can talk to – and that they’ve found something else about themselves that they didn’t realize [before] and they finally feel at home with themselves.”