With campus having its first in-person classes since 2020, students are looking for ways to connect with peers; some of these students being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Many clubs, events, and resources on campus have stayed digital since transitioning at the start of COVID-19, and it is easier than ever to access them.
The Rainbow Café, one of 13 spaces through the LBSU Counseling and Psychological Services, is facilitated by Dr. Lauren Jensen, a licensed psychiatrist. Hosted through Zoom, the Café is an LGBTQ+ drop-in support space for those to learn or connect, with a focus on sexual, gender, and romantic diversity. It meets at 3:30 p.m. every Monday, barring breaks or holidays. More information and a link to the meeting can be found through the CAPS website under outreach on their sidebar or through Instagram (@csulb.rainbowcafe).
As the space tailors exclusively to the LGBTQ+ community, Jensen recommends allies interested in learning more to visit the Queers and Allies club on campus. She wants people who join to feel comfortable expressing themselves within a safe community. “We're making a space for those experiences to be heard, so that's really a gift where we get to learn how to create authentic connections and where it's okay to make mistakes and grow.”
A typical meeting consists of discussions, speakers, games, and other means of getting participants to know one another.
Mia Castro, a civil engineering major, is a recent transfer to LBSU and has found the Café to be helpful. She says that the topics every week are relatable and would recommend anybody curious to attend.
“It has really made me feel less alone during this time. You can vent and share how you’re feeling with trustworthy people who understand what you are going through.”
One of the potential problems with online meetings for students is privacy, as Jensen points out. For this reason, the school’s Multicultural Center has spaces reserved during the Café’s duration, with the addition of an all-gender bathroom.
“[It’s] for those who are questioning or exploring their identities,” Jensen says, “and to find support in that journey, regardless of where it goes.”
Though the Rainbow Café is only one place meant to connect and help students, CAPS holds numerous other services, such as other drop-in spaces, therapy groups or initial consultations that could lead to short-term counseling.