5710 and 21st Century Activism
The 21st century has been distinguished by an increasingly formal relationship between the University and its LGBTQ students. When the University issued a Diversity statement in 2004 that did not include the LGBTQ community, a group of students and staff responded by creating a set of recommendations for improving LGBTQ student life at the University. Those recommendations led to the creation of the 5710 Diversity Center on South Woodlawn, a space that combines the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Office of LGBTQ Student Life. The combination is not an accident. Antonia Clifford (AB 2010, AM 2011) remembered "LGBTQ students of color forcing this issue and wanting this to be a joint space and wanting to make that work, and the reality of making that work was so beautiful. And painful."
The shared space responds to a long history of LGBTQ students of color feeling isolated in their overlapping identities. Nayan Shah (PhD 1995) recalled that when he was here, "to be out and gay at the University of Chicago seemed to be white male," while Ann Kwong, (AB 1980, PhD 1986), "really didn't think I was gay when I was in Chicago because of how I felt was so far from the white lesbians that I saw."
LGBTQ students often have good queer fun, as in the photos of the 2010 Genderfuck party, but they also continue to fight to make the University a place where all students can safely pursue the "life of the mind." Trans* students and their allies have been especially active in improving campus conditions in the last decade. Students have successfully fought for an Open Housing policy, where students can live with a roommate of any gender, and a preferred names policy. Another goal, symbolized by the "Hello" nametag in the case, is to normalize asking people about their preferred gender pronouns instead of making assumptions based on gender-normative cues. Objects in this case show some of the ways that current students continue to organize, particularly around intersectional identities.