A love long awaited

About six years ago, academic adviser Indria Jenkins, graduate student at the time, was walking between Carver and Music Hall, when a vaguely familiar, bubbly woman approached her and yelled “Hey!”

A few days earlier, Jenkins and the bubbly woman, Logi Lager, who is now her fiancé, both attended a “Lez-be-real” meeting, which was a queer women’s support group.

After Lager reached out to Jenkins, the two hit it off and started chatting on Facebook.

“We were friends for almost a year before we started dating,” Jenkins said. “Now we’re engaged and getting married next month.”

Lager expressed why Jenkins is important to her.

“Indria is important to me, as any romantic partner to anybody is,” Lager said. “We share common beliefs, and we grow together in a way that allows us to fully explore meaning and purpose while enjoying our day to day lives.”

Since the couple met at Iowa State, they found it fitting to tie the knot on campus as well.

“The ceremony is going to be in Lago courtyard because this is our building,” Jenkins said. “Since we are both psych people, it just seemed fitting.”

Jenkins is an academic adviser in psychology at Iowa State, while Lager works at  Mary Greeley Medical Center in the behavioral health unit. 

Though she is comfortable expressing herself now, Jenkins wasn’t always as open.

Jenkins’ older sister by 14 months kept her company while growing up in the same age group.

“Around middle school I realized that I wasn’t as interested in boys as she was and the rest of our friends were,” Jenkins said. “However, I grew up in Georgia and didn’t really know any LGBT people, so I didn’t have language for it, so I never identified as gay or lesbian or anything like that.”

High school was when Jenkins first started coming out to herself.

“I really did hit all of these stages in a very stereotypical, ‘how you read about them’ kind of fashion,” Jenkins said. “First I came out to myself and said ‘it’s OK to have these thoughts, but you can’t act on these thoughts.’”

The only person who Jenkins came out to in high school was her cousin, but she still didn’t act on her feelings and kept to herself for the most part.

“It wasn’t until after I graduated high school and was 19 that I had my first girlfriend,” Jenkins said. “That only lasted about six months, not long enough. It broke my heart, and I moved to New York City.”

When Jenkins went to New York City, she had two goals for herself. The first was she wanted to be an openly proud lesbian woman. The second was to be outgoing. 

Jenkins happened to move to New York during Gay Pride month, which she was unaware of at the time, so she was able to strive for her goals early on.

“The weekend after I got there was Brooklyn Pride, but I got lost trying to find it,” Jenkins said. “However, the following weekend was the Manhattan Pride Parade, and so I ended up volunteering for that and I met a lot of people there, and I ended up volunteering there for like 10 years straight.”

Jenkins also started working at a large, independent bookstore. While working there, Jenkins discovered that there were more queer people than there were straight people.

“I was still very uncomfortable with my identity,” Jenkins said. “[I] would still wear my colors and my rainbow chain every day, but when I went to work I would tuck it into my shirt. There was still a lot of shame. Even though I was surrounded by all of these queer people that would be totally accepting, I wasn’t comfortable with it.”

This behavior continued for about three months before Jenkins started hanging out with her co-workers and getting more comfortable. Jenkins eventually moved to Ames to complete graduate school at Iowa State.

Jenkins, being proud of who she is, has had a lot of involvement with the LGBTQA+ community and Pride Week in the past.

“Pride is so much fun,” Jenkins said. “Everyone is just happy with who they are for once, and there’s so much music and dancing, and it’s just a happy time.”

Each spring, the Pride Summit, an organization that includes LGBTQA+ student organizations/interest groups, LGBTQA+ Faculty and Staff Association and LGBTQA+ Student Services, joins together to provide the ISU community with a week of events.

“Pride Week is basically an opportunity for the campus to get a little more education about sexuality and gender, to raise awareness and to be proud of your sexual orientation or gender expression and to get folks involved in creating more welcoming and open spaces,” said Brad Freihoefer, director of LGBT Student Services.

The first known public meeting involving a group of LGBTQA+ students on campus was in 1970. That group, which is now known at the LGBTA Alliance, now has nearly 100 members at Iowa State.

Established in the 1990s, the LGBTSS office is the 14th oldest LGBTQA+ office in the country.

“After the first LGBTQA+ greek community, Delta Lambda Phi, formed on campus, many other LGBTQA+ student organizations began forming as well,” Freihoefer said.

Pride Week is a chance for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to honor their journeys and to grow, learn and be proud of the identities of which they hold.

The meaning of Pride Week for Jenkins has changed a little bit over the years.

“I would say that the way it has changed for me in the sense that I don’t really go as often as before,” Jenkins said. “I used to volunteer, take part in it and I was actually one of the organizers behind getting Iowa State to participate in it for the first time while I was a grad student, so it’s very important to me.”

Jenkins said it’s kind of about the visibility.

“Personally, I don’t really need that anymore and life just happens,” Jenkins said. “I would like to go, but if I’m busy, I’m not stressing it.”

“The part that was really cool for me was the first year that Iowa State participated,” Jenkins said. “I helped man the booth for the first time, and I had some people that worked at the other universities like [University of Northern Iowa], [University of Iowa] and stuff like that, saying that they don’t do this and they aren’t here. The following year there were so many more schools there.”

Lager expressed a somewhat similar opinion. 

I’d say that pride week not only means celebrating my own identity with like folk, but creating a stir; an awareness within the community, which in turn, can create more resources and a safer environment for all of us.” Lager said. 

No matter who is participating, there seems to be one common goal.

“The ultimate, long-term goal is for everyone to be supported, recognized, visible, included, welcomed and to have the same access and opportunities,” Freihoefer said. “We just want everyone to be proud of who they are.”