As the Stony Brook University community celebrates Pride Month, we highlight the people in the LGBTQ* community that enact change, create safe spaces and more.
Maxine Moylan began her Stony Brook University career as an undergraduate student and fell in love with the diverse student population, inclusive atmosphere, and the respect given and received to each Seawolf, no matter how they identify.
Now, in her role as coordinator of Multicultural Affairs in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Moylan is part of the ongoing solution for those who are finding their way in the LGBTQ*community as well as those who are fully immersed in it. We sat down with Moylan to get into the details of her position at Stony Brook University, some of the hottest topics right now in the LGBTQ* community, and how those who do not identify themselves as LGBTQ* can support those that do in an authentic and genuine way — during Pride Month and beyond.
Q: What is your role at Stony Brook University?
In my role as one of the coordinators of Multicultural Affairs, I work with the rest of the Office of Multicultural Affairs team, within the Office of Student Life and Division of Student Affairs. Our office strives to promote equity and inclusion in all aspects of campus life.
There are several facets to my role as coordinator, including coordinating various campus programs and traditions, serving on diversity-focused committees, and providing program advising to cultural clubs and organizations.
One particular area I’ve taken responsibility for has been supervision of our campus LGBTQ* Center and the team at LGBTQ* Services. My team and I are responsible for operating the LGBTQ* Center and ensuring we provide the campus community with engaging, informative events and traditions.
Q: What attracted you to do this work at Stony Brook University?
I was first attracted to Stony Brook University as an undergraduate student, due to the University’s strong reputation and diverse student body. I’ve since graduated from Stony Brook twice — I received my bachelor’s in sociology in 2014, and my master’s in social work in 2016.
During my time here as a student, I realized that Stony Brook University displayed a commitment to diversity that truly resonated with me, and I became determined to end up working here. After spending some time working in other fields, I found out about the opening for the coordinator of Multicultural Affairs position, and it seemed like the perfect fit for what I wanted to do, professionally.
Q: What are some of the hot topics you are seeing in Stony Brook’s LGBTQ* community and how can those pose a challenge? How are you/the team helping ease those challenges?
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of student questions surrounding gender-inclusive housing. I am happy to answer questions related to that to the best of my ability, even though I’m not intricately involved in the process. We’ve also had many students reach out about the University’s preferred/chosen name policy, as well as a decent number of recent graduates reaching out to ask about how to get their transcripts and/or diplomas updated with their new names after a name change. Many folks are not aware of New York’s new guidelines around updating their gender marker on their license or legally changing their name. Within the past one to two years, the process has become much more streamlined, so I can help with that as well.
Another one of the biggest hot topics amongst Stony Brook’s LGBTQ* community is the wide array of anti-LGBTQ* bills that continue to be introduced and enacted across the country. These pose a variety of challenges — not only do they impact students’ mental health and sense of societal acceptance/belonging, but they can lead to students feeling unsure if they’ll be safe when returning home for breaks, between academic years, or after graduation.
While we, unfortunately, can’t ease these challenges completely, we do our best to help provide students with a physical space on campus where they know that they and their identities will be respected and celebrated. For students who might have concerns about the living situations they’re returning to, we work with the Student Support Team to ensure that students are receiving access to the full range of support services the University offers.
Q: For those who are not members of the LGBTQ* community but want to provide support, especially during Pride Month, what are some ways to do that authentically?
There is such a wide variety of ways to provide support of course, so this list is far from comprehensive. But here are a few ways to step up:
Education: A great starting step for anyone new to allyship is to educate yourself about LGBTQ* history. Pride isn’t just a celebration, it’s observed in June as a commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Aspiring allies should take the time to learn more about the historical struggles LGBTQ* folks have faced in the United States, both before and after Stonewall. Read up on the brave individuals who contributed to the fight for equality.
Be an active ally: Look at the current challenges facing LGBTQ* individuals in the present day, and find ways to work for positive change. It’s important to keep an eye on issues at the local, state, national, and global level that can impact LGBTQ* communities. One way to do this is to seek out LGBTQ* activist groups or charities in your area, and find out what issues are most heavily impacting LGBTQ* folks in your local community.
Speak up: If you see or hear someone disparaging LGBTQ* people, don’t stay silent. Whether that’s calling out a homophobic joke, or correcting someone on another person’s pronouns — whenever you can do so without putting yourself or others in an unsafe situation, do so.
Listen louder than you speak: Remember, if you’re an ally, you shouldn’t be speaking over the voices of people in the LGBTQ* community.
Put your money where your mouth is: This is always a great way to show support, but it’s especially important during Pride Month. Instead of buying Pride-themed items from multi-billion dollar companies, seek out LGBTQ* owned-and-operated businesses, and give them your support directly.
Stay engaged: At a time with more attacks on LGBTQ* rights than ever, it’s important to remember that allyship is not a one-and-done thing. It’s an ongoing process, one which requires you to pay attention to LGBTQ* equality year-round, not just in June.
Q: What resources do the LGBTQ* Center help provide new, transfer and returning students that can help make their time here on a campus a little bit easier? Or, are there services that can help those students leaving college and heading into adult life easier, too?
The LGBTQ* Center helps students navigate campus life at Stony Brook University, in a variety of ways. Our staff is trained to help direct students towards the campus resources that can best help their situation(s). We help connect students with resources to access gender inclusive housing, email/ID card changes under the university’s Chosen or Preferred Name Policy (P400), and more. During the Fall and Spring semesters, we offer a variety of affinity groups for students to build a sense of community with other students who may share an aspect of their identity.
Throughout the year, our office hosts a variety of events to help provide students with support and resources. And of course, our LGBTQ* Center serves as a great space for students to relax, have fun, make friends, and feel accepted.