Category: News & Information

Q&A With UDPride Alumni Network Blue Hens

As Pride Month is celebrated in June 2024, alumni Luca Maurer and Alex Ames talk about their advocacy work with the LGBTQ+ community and UD’s role in their lives.

 

 

 

LUCA MAURER, AS86

 

Executive Director for Student Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in the Center for Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at Ithaca College

 

How are you working with and for the LGBTQ+ community at Ithaca?

My overall goal is to create the conditions so that students experience fewer barriers and obstacles caused by inequity and injustice, and can instead invest their time and energy to do things that are meaningful to them, build connections and community, and succeed.

I work to make Ithaca College a place that not only "accepts" historically marginalized, minoritized, underrepresented and underserved students and everyone in the intersections, but *expects* them with services, support and resources.

How do we know when that is achieved? What’s the result? Students eager to major in Queer Studies, or African Diaspora Studies? Or to focus their work in civil rights- specific jobs after graduation? Sometimes, and that’s great. But my hope is that it translates into something much more radical – students studying whatever they want. Students pursuing all career paths, not just those they think they can get by with and face the least amount of discrimination. Students aspiring untethered, rather than settling for something less.

 

What inspired or motivated you to do this work advocating for the LGBTQ+ community?

At UD, I was on the verge of dropping out due to anti-LGBTQ+ harassment, when a student affairs professional told me that I mattered, and it mattered to her that I stayed at UD. Because of that one interaction with her, I stayed, graduated and pursued a career in higher ed myself. Even before I attended UD, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. The successes and struggles I experienced at UD motivated me to find ways to do that. Now I have a job that did not exist when I was in college – working to create a campus community that is inclusive, affirming and equitable for everyone. Students don’t come to campus with singular, separate identities. LGBTQ+ students don’t just bring their LGBTQ+ selves to college, they bring their whole selves; race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, faith, ability. And so working for racial justice IS trans justice work. Economic justice, environmental justice, prison abolition ARE LGBTQ+ justice. LGBTQ+ liberation must be intersectional, or it will not be liberation at all. Some of my UD professors and peers helped lay the foundation for this way I’ve approached my work ever since.

 

What are you most excited about regarding the UDPride Alumni Network?

As LGBTQ+ people and everyone working in solidarity, our existence is powerful. When we come together from seemingly disparate communities, we create a force that can be united in liberation. There’s still work to do in our families, schools and communities. One way to put that into action is by living authentically, intentionally and purposefully. I'm excited about the mutually beneficial possibilities the UDPride Alumni Network offers for us as LGBTQ+ alumni, and for UD overall.

 

If you could share any message to Blue Hen alumni during Pride Month, what would it be? 

LGBTQ+ people aren't new, we have existed throughout history. We've always been a part of our families, communities and schools.  We're interwoven into the fabric of society, and into the fabric of UD. Just as LGBTQ+ history IS American history, LGBTQ+ Blue Hen alumni are integral to all UD has been and all it will be. Blue Hen alumni have so many opportunities to be allies through their compassion, action and commitment to making their families, workplaces, schools and communities places where LGBTQ+ people are welcome and expected!

 

 

ALEX AMES, AS14M, AS17M, AS18PHD

 

Director of Outreach & Engagement at the Rosenbach Museum & Library (a special collections library affiliated with the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation)

 

Can you tell us a little about your work and how it is influenced by the LGBTQ+ community?

Essentially, my job is to work with my colleagues to bring our world-renowned collections of rare books, historical manuscripts, artworks and artifacts to life for our visitors and program participants. During my tenure at the Rosenbach, I’ve had the opportunity to create programs around some of our LGBTQ+ collections, including a hands-on tour titled Rebellious Love: Exploring Queer History, Art, and Literature as well as a Rosenbach Podcast episode called “Here Lies the Heart: The Passionate Life, Rebellious Love, and Remarkable Romances of Mercedes De Acosta”. My goal with these and other LGBTQ-related programs is to help Queer people feel grounded in their community’s history, and to help non-Queer people learn to view marginalized communities with empathy and nuance. The Rosenbach regularly partners with local LGBTQ+ organizations like the DVLF and William Way Community Center to bring these stories to people who will benefit from hearing them, and from exploring our rich collections in these areas.

In addition to my professional work, I’ve also become deeply involved in regional LGBTQIA+ civic affairs. I founded and served as the inaugural chair of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania’s LGBTQIA+ Committee and currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund, the Philadelphia area’s LGBTQIA+ community foundation.

 

What inspired or motivated you to do this work advocating for the LGBTQ+ community?

My academic experiences as a graduate student at UD directly inform all of the work I do in interpreting collections and creating opportunities for programmatic engagement with LGBTQ+ history. My UD training in history, material culture and museum studies helped me find a unique way to contribute constructively to our social discourse about gender, sexuality and civil rights.

 

If you could share any message to Blue Hen alumni during Pride Month, what would it be? 

During Pride Month, I hope that members of the UD community will take advantage of opportunities to think deeply about how gender and sexual identity shape our lives, both individually and collectively.

 

Learn more about the UDPride Alumni Network or contact Ashley Ridler at aaridler@udel.edu. 


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