EagleHerald/Chelsea Ewaldt  Attendees discuss the new LGBT Center that just opened at UW-Marinette Wednesday night.
EagleHerald/Chelsea Ewaldt
Attendees discuss the new LGBT Center that just opened at UW-Marinette Wednesday night.

MARINETTE — Dozens of people attended the opening reception of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Center Wednesday night at UW-Marinette.

“I’ve been here at UW-Marinette for 10 years and I’ve been the advisor for the student LGBT organization for nine of them,” said Amy Reddinger, associate professor of English and gender studies and director of the LGBT Center. “During that time, I was listed in the United Way 311 directory. I get regular calls from social workers, teachers and people looking for resources like social needs, legal advice and resources for LGBT kids in K-12. After a number of years of getting those calls, the idea just started to brew that I wanted to do something more for the community.”

Thus, Reddinger came up with the idea of the LGBT Center after speaking with Campus Administrator Cindy Bailey.

“She said, ‘absolutely, let’s do this,’” she said. “We’ve had an amazing response. What we’ve created is an organization that’s community focused. It’s campus based, but community focused.”

According to Reddinger, the center was chosen to be referred to as LGBT instead of LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and asexual people) to address the community as a whole.

“We recognize that this may exclude and make invisible some identities, and we work to represent and make visible all aspects of LGBTQI identity through our mission and work,” she explained. “The LGBT Center at UW-Marinette works to enhance and sustain the lives of LGBT people in our community through resources, support, information, and the creation of safe, inclusive spaces.”

She hopes to serve what is a significant gap in the community, “because there’s no agencies that specifically provide LGBT services in Marinette, Menominee and Oconto counties and beyond. We see ourselves as helping coordinate some services.”

Arranging events, establishing a providers’ group and providing resources are a few of the number of things Reddinger vows that will help fill that gap.

“We really hope to respond to community need,” she said. “I think some people need to know they’re not alone. I keep hearing stories about people in the community who feel isolated and their family might not be supportive.”

There’s access to a computer in the center to help with a variety of things: doing research, finding a medical provider, etc.

Reddinger said people throughout the area have been very generous to support the center.

“We’re running entirely on individual donations,” she explained. “We will continue to fundraise and grant write because our costs will change and grow as we continue to build programming.”

The LGBT Center is located on UW-Marinette’s campus (750 Bay Shore St.) in the Main Building, Room 145. For more information call 715-735-4300 x4310 or email lgbtcentermarinette@gmail.com.

“I want people to know that they’re not alone,” Reddinger said. “I hope we can provide some information.”