Queer Closet offers an safe space for LGBTQ+ students to find clothing options
Queer Closet is a free shopping experience for LGBTQ+ students, located in the Women and Gender Resource Center on the fourth floor of the Student Union Memorial Center.
The closet houses clothing, accessories, shoes and hygiene products for anyone identifying as an LGBTQ+ student. The space is meant to be safe and inclusive. Students using it can remain anonymous.
Queer Closet is located in a quieter area of the WGRC and is open for students to come in and “shop” anytime that the center is open. For those that would like help with shopping or to drop off their donation with a person, a staff member is available at the closet on Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m.
The closet started after last year’s Transgender Clothing Swap that was held in conjunction with the Trans Day of Remembrance. Maritza Almanca, the co-facilitator of the Queer Trans People of Color discussion group, remembered the event as a pivotal moment in her gender understanding and growth.
“I remember leaving that event with three bags of clothing, some of the first dresses I ever got to wear,” she said.
Angela Labistre Champion, a graduate research associate at the UA’s Institute for LGBT Studies, explained that a now-graduated student, Bridgette Nobbe, and herself decided to create Queer Closet with the clothing items that remained after the Trans Swap Event.
The closet was located on the fifth floor of the Marshall Building from January to September this year. Labistre Champion explained that the closet was not very accessible and, therefore, there were not a lot of students that utilized the resource. The WGRC contacted her in early October of this year about extra space they had for the closet to be relocated.
The current location in the WGRC seems to be more accessible, as the grand opening a couple weeks ago on Oct. 16 proved. Almanca said there were about 60-70 people who showed up to “shop” and donate. The event ended with students modeling their new outfits in a fashion show for the crowd.
Almanca and members of the QTPOC organized the clothing that was in stock and decorated the space for the grand opening. She said clothing in sizes extra small, small and plus sizes are needed, as well as travel size hygiene products. Donations can be dropped off in a special bin inside the closet or given to the front desk at the WGRC.
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Satellite locations or possible pop-up shops could be in future plans, Labistre Champion said.
Ruben Zecena, a graduate research associate at the Institute for LGBT Studies, said an accessible and safe space is the priority.
Zecena said, “We can’t quantify a number [of people using the closet], but it’s meaningful.”"
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