UK unveils newest concrete home for its LGBTQ Wildcats


Members of the UK administration and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are joined by LGBTQ advocates on Oct. 12, 2018 to unveil UK’s new Dinkle-Mas Suite for LGBTQ Resources.

Jacob Eads

You could call it a “homecoming.” UK took a material step towards campus inclusivity Friday by cutting the ribbon on its newest center for LGBTQ resources.

From its inception, the new Dinkle-Mas Suite, right in the midst of the Gatton Student Center, was designed to be the home for UK’s Office of LGBTQ Resources, which has spent the last three years in Blazer Dining Hall.

The newly crafted space was made possible by a $250,000 donation from UK alum and LGBTQ advocate Jim Dinkle and his partner Carlos Mas-Rivera. The pair was joined by President Eli Capilouto and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray Friday to reveal their handiwork.

Capilioto said that the center “epitomizes our commitment to, and aspirations for, a deep sense of belonging at the University of Kentucky.”

“It’s a promise to provide an environment where all members of our UK family can be their best, their most authentic versions of themselves,” said Capilouto. “This is central to what we must be, and who we are.”

Dinkle, who served as Student Government President before graduating from UK in 1982, said that he made an emotional visit to campus last December that spurred him to make the donation funding the new center. But while he says the visit was his first in over 35 years, it was a “homecoming.”

Upon his arrival, Dinkle said Capilouoto was the first person to welcome him home, and now he has the opportunity to welcome others to the new space.

“It was a lonely feeling knowing I was gay,” Dinkle said of his time at UK. “I never want to know of a young person today at the University of Kentucky who feels as conflicted, torn or alone as I once felt when I was a student 35 years ago.”

Dinkle’s commitment to the LGBTQ community at UK has already produced some fruit, according to those who work within the new center.

During the first three days of the fall semester, the Office of LGBTQ Resources received more foot traffic and visitors than it did during the entirety of the previous spring semester, according to the office’s director Dr. Lance Poston.

“The reality of what this is is so much better than what we dreamed,” Poston said of the new space. “This suite represents new possibilities in community building, education and advocacy around diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. In other ways, this suite represents the best of who we are as an institution.”

The Office of LGBTQ Resources serves a hub for programming and events geared toward the larger LGBTQ community on UK’s Campus.

While this newest addition to the Gatton Student Center brings a big influence to the campus community, leaders in the Lexington community also heralded the center’s mission.

At today’s ceremony Lexington Mayor Jim Gray proclaimed that Oct. 12, 2018, would henceforth be known as the University of Kentucky Office of LGBTQ Resources Day, as well as Jim Dinkle Day in Lexington.

Gray is one of the few openly LGBTQ mayors in the country.

As the scissors snipped, and the ribbons guarding the new center floated to the ground at the close of today’s ceremony, the Dinkle-Mas Suite was flooded with students and admirers eager to gain peaks at UK’s newest home for its “rainbow Wildcats”.

“We speak with a unified voice about who we are and who we always want to be, a place where everyone – regardless of what they look like, what they believe, who they love, or where they’re from – belong. Truly belong,” said Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees Bob Vance.