LGBTQ center gives UK students a home away from home for the holidays


UK’s LGBTQ Resource Center which is located in the Dinkle-Mas Suite in the Gatton Student Center, helps make sure almost every student has a welcoming place to have a holiday meal. Photo by Jacob Eads | Staff

Andrew Sutherland

The holiday season is a time for most to gather with friends and family, sharing a feeling of connection and most likely indulging in far too many calories. For some UK students, however, that scenario isn’t possible, whether it is because of difficulties posed by distance, money or family estrangement. 

The Office of Institutional Diversity’s LGBTQ Resource Center has created a solution with its “Welcome Home” program, pairing students with faculty and staff to ensure that no one is left out this holiday season.

Many of UK’s residence halls close during the holiday breaks, leaving some students without a place to go until classes start up again. These breaks are often difficult for LGBTQ students who are at odds with their families, according to Mel Lesch of UK’s Dinkle Mas Suite for LGBTQ Resources. 

“I know for me personally, when I was in undergrad, there was a Christmas break period where I had just come out to my family, and they were telling me I couldn’t be gay in their house,” Lesch said. “We’ve worked it out since then, but at the time it was like it would be really uncomfortable to go home.”

But the program isn’t exclusive to UK’s LGTBQ students. Many out of state students may find that traveling home for the holidays is just too far, time-consuming or just not financially feasible. 

To participate in the program, students and hosts are required to fill out an application form, and those are vetted to ensure the safety of all involved and to match people according to interests and backgrounds. There are different arrangements, ranging from just a hosted holiday meal to extended stays.

With the Thanksgiving Break passed, applications are being accepted for the Christmas holiday until Dec. 7. 2019. There will also be a pilot program for spring break, according to Rayne Parker, the assistant director of the Dinkle-Mas Suite.

For many students, there is that awkward part of Thanksgiving dinner when they’re required to say what they’re thankful for. Because of the efforts of those at the Office of Institutional Diversity and the Dinkle-Mas Suite for LGBTQ Resources, the chance to make new connections and share in the warmth of the holiday speaks for itself.