The Spectrum Center of the University of Michigan celebrates its 40th anniversary this year with a weekend of commemorative events.
Founded in 1971 by Radical Lesbians leader Cindy Gair and longtime LGBT rights activist Jim Toy, the center works to enrich the campus experience of LGBT students through education, outreach, advocacy and support. Spectrum Center became the first staffed office for gay and lesbian programming in a higher educational institution in the U.S.
In its 40 years, the Spectrum Center has been a central aspect of LGBT student life in Ann Arbor.
Gair and Toy were hired with a small budget to address gay and lesbian issues on campus. Today, the center has expanded greatly with Jackie Simpson as the center’s director and a staff of eight to support programming and communication.
Since the center’s creation, it has founded a Lavender Graduation, developed a coming-out training and ally training, amended the University bylaws to protect “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” in their non-discrimination clause, and presented numerous advocacy and education programs. The center also expanded its focus to include bisexual and transgender affairs.
Spectrum will celebrate its 40th anniversary the weekend of Nov. 18 through alumni performances, unique workshops and other celebrations. “Given what we’ve planned, I think it is truly going to be a wonderful weekend and a lot of fun for students and alumni,” says Jackie Simpson.
The Spectrum Center’s 40th anniversary events, below, are open to the LGBT and allied public:
Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov. 17
Transgender activist Sebastian Colon of the School of Social Work will speak.
Luncheon and Workshop Session, 12 p.m. Nov. 18
Three 45-minute programs beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Alumnus Barbara Timmer leads a discussion on “It Gets Better – But When?”
Alumnus David Bohnett and founder of the Bohnett Foundation discuss nationally changing LGBT policies.
Former athletic trainer Lindsy McLean talks on LGBT athletes and sports.
Photograph on the Union steps following workshops.
Tribute Performance, evening, Nov. 18
A special tribute performance from five alumni of the School of Music, Theater and Dance. Performers include Gavin Creel, Celia Keenan-Bolger, David Burtka, Dan Reichard and Danny Gurwin.
Rainbow Tailgate, Nov. 19
Spectrums tent will be next to University president Mary Sue Coleman on the golf course, prior to the football game.
“8,” Nov. 19
A reading of the latest work by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, writer of “Milk.” U-M will be the first university to premier a performance of the work, related to the testimonies during the Prop. 8 case in California.