Take the Last Bite

We take a bite out of Third Places, such as conferences, think tanks, liberation labs and other liberatory-conscious spaces that offer queer and trans community and connection outside of home, work and social media.

Host R.B. Brooks (they/them) reflects on sharing (third) space with a small but mighty group of LGBTQ+ higher education scholars and educators to examine how to make LGBTQ+ centers/spaces on college campuses anti-racist spaces and how the facilitation, environment, and pace of the think-tank offered a liberatory framework for new possibilities. 


Additional Resources & References  

Learn more about Third Places: 
  • Michigan Minds episode – “Exploring How the Pandemic has Impacted Third Places” 
  • Ray Oldenburg, who coined the concept of Third Places, penned a newsletter to urban planners warning of “Our Vanishing ‘Third Places’” 
  • Allie Conti writes for The Atlanitic – “Do Yourself a Favor and Go Find a ‘Third Place’”
  • AlibsWrites blogs about “The Death of Third Places and the Evolution of Communities” for Illumination on Medium 
Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown published by AK Press

Resources for centering anti-racism work in LGBTQ+ spaces on college campuses: 

For questions, comments or feedback about this episode: lastbite@sgdinstitute.org 

We’re on TikTok! You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or at sgdinstitute.org 

Host: R.B. Brooks, they/them, director of programs for the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity 

Cover art: Adrienne McCormick

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Creators & Guests

R.B. Brooks
Director of Programs, Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity
Justin Drwencke
Executive Director, Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity

What is Take the Last Bite?

Take the Last Bite is a direct counter to the Midwest Nice mentality— highlighting advocacy & activism by queer/trans communities in the Midwest region. Each episode unearths the often disregarded and unacknowledged contributions of queer & trans folks to social change through interviews, casual conversations and reflections on Midwest queer time, space, and place.

For questions, comments and feedback: lastbite@sgdinstitute.org

To support this podcast and the Institute, please visit sgdinstitute.org/giving

Host: R.B. Brooks, they/them, director of programs for the Midwest Institute for Sexuality & Gender Diversity

Cover Art: Adrienne McCormick

Hey hi hello y’all, this is R.B., your Midwest mascot, bringing you another episode of Take the Last Bite, a show where we take Midwest Nice, copy and paste its user-interface and relaunch a new social media app that looks just like it and dooms the original to a slow, steady demise.

P.S. you can find me on Threads @tranzwrites

Speaking of: Threads, an extension of the Instagram app, was launched this week & if you were around for the initial 24-hours of the app, you may have noticed a pattern– folks were entering with no idea what to expect, but also a sense of excitement for something new and resounding calls for keeping this space pro-queer, pro-Black, and overall a comfortable, non-toxic space. What this platform will ultimately become is yet to be seen, and it’s not the only new app that’s come down the shoot, with Spill also cropping up and other existing apps modifying their features to take advantage of Twitter’s willful decline. But by and large, it’s clear that folks are craving community, especially an online space that brings more connections, and less branded marketing trying to sell us another galaxy light or skincare product.

During the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, digital spaces and social media became our primary spaces, and are still serving as the buffer between what happens in our homes, workplaces, and daily lives. The pandemic has also left us with a resounding feeling of loneliness, started by the more rigid social distancing and lockdown protocols at the beginning of the pandemic and still holding strong as we are forced into a post-pandemic state of mind, the remnants of being deincentivized to gather with others and the reality that many are still figuring out their comfort levels and embodied trauma around where they want to spend their time and who they want to spend it with.

Social media, in many ways, became the only safer option compared to potential exposure to a deadly virus. Compounded with increased social anxieties and generations raised online, social media has collapsed a constellation of social spaces into a one-stop shop for personal connection, political or ideological discussion, and tethering to a particular “place” – even if that place is solely virtual.

This collapsing of social, political, emotional (what up dating apps), and most other interactions with people primarily online plus the gnarly impact of the pandemic on leisure spaces such as bars and restaurants, bookstores, other local establishments that couldn’t financially support themselves, has resurfaced and reshaped a decades long discussion about the disappearance of Third Places.

The concept of a Third Places was introduced and deeply studied by a sociologist and urban planner named Ray Oldenburg, who described Third Places as simply additional places one frequents beyond their home (first place) and work (second place). This original idea of Third Places includes cafes, churches, libraries, essentially the place where locals especially can gather to establish a sense of belonging to their immediate community.

Lots of articles, TikToks and discussions have popped up in the last couple years discussing the pandemic’s particular impacts on such Third Places. I’ve linked a handful in the show notes for folks to look further into the concept and talking points, but ironically even in the late 1990s, Ray Oldenburg was warning of the decline of Third Places, as homes became more privatized (more fences and gates), minimal open spaces like parks and other localized gathering hangouts, and unwalkable/navigatable areas that make something nearby feel remote.

So in a moment where our society is feeling a deep, collective loneliness, a moment where we are all more online than ever but queer and trans people, and generally most marginalized people, are subject to unsafe social media environments, and a smattering of local businesses have closed, (likely many that serve marginalized populations), evaluating our constellation of queer and trans Third Places and building up safer, in-person spaces that offset the daily grind of living in a cishetnormative capitalist society seems like a high priority.

On today’s episode, I reflect on the experience of being in Third Space with a small but mighty group of LGBTQ+ higher education scholars and practitioners for a think-tank style space where we grappled with the greatest hindrances to making LGBTQ+ spaces on college campuses simultaneously anti-racist spaces. While we unearthed some incredible priorities and potential commitments for our group to parse through, my monologue today will focus more on the literal experience of being in a space that, while related to my full-time job, offered greater flexibility, capacity, and intentionality to slow down & truly examine the key questions in front of us. Through this reflection, I’ll highlight how the curation of spaces outside of work and home are essential for queer and trans knowledge building, well-being, and liberation and constitute their own form of a Third Space.

Grab a seat and make yourself at home, on this episode of Take the Last Bite


Why can't we be in space with hundreds of other queer and trans folks and having these necessary conversations?

When it comes to dynamics around privilege and oppression, and around identity. Well intentioned isn’t actually good enough.

How far is too far to drive for a drag show? I don’t know, we’re in Duluth right now, I would straight up go to Nebraska, probably,

If you are not vibing, or something’s not right, or also like there’s an irreparable rupture, you have absolutely every right to walk away.

Definitely going to talk about Midwest Nice and if that's as real as it wants to think it is.

Midwest nice is white aggression. That's what it is.


I’d never heard of Roanoke, Virginia. The only association I had with the word “Roanoke” was the one season of American Horror Story I’d never watched because I wasn’t interested in paranormal alien scifi horror so I skipped it. Come to find out, that show is referring to Roanoke, North Carolina, not the mountainous little town known for the world’s second largest man-made star that I flew into in the middle of Pride Month, also known as June.

The hotel lobby was quite the site to take in, and when I tried to look up a photo to spark my memory, I found it’s conveniently not included in the gallery of photos the hotel has on its website. The antebellum imagery beckons to a time where there were “free” states and slave states and upon further use of the hotel/convention center combo, plantations made a recurring appearance in the paintings in the hallways. But for the next three days, this space, with its visual homage to a true American Horror Story, would be the setting for an anti-racism conference.

When I’m not sitting down to record an interview with yet another rad Midwest queer human. Or when I’m not running around convention centers like a decapitated chicken for the Midwest BLGTA College Conference every year, my full time job is in higher education.

What that means for me is that as a graduate student I studied college and university culture, including organizational structures, a little bit about finances & funding (but I’m not a math gay so only so much of that stuck), and quite a bit of student development theory– aka patterns in how college students make meaning and develop understandings of themselves, their relationships with others, and the world around them over their time in college.

I ended up in this field because of vital support systems I had when I was a college student. In fact, it’s a pretty common narrative among folks who work in student affairs and higher education that they landed there because of a few key people who kept them afloat during their college years. This pipeline or pathway has become complicated, because many of us currently in higher education struggle with encouraging current students to pursue this career path, or whatever this is, because of how underfunded, politicized, and strenuous our jobs are.

In 2017, educator and truth-teller Codi Charles penned an excellent article called “Student Affairs is a SHAM” addressing how this corrupted pathway was harmful to marginalized students and by mentoring marginalized students into higher education, we “are preying on their insecurities and congratulating them for carving out space for themselves on our classist cishetnormative ableist white supremacist campuses.”

My actual initiation into higher education started as a marginalized college student who had incredible mentors, academic parents as I often called them, who went well beyond their duties as assigned to invest in my academic, professional but most importantly personal growth. And yes, the natural order of things did mean that I was enamored by the idea of becoming a vital support system for college students, I was encouraged to think about student affairs/higher education as a career and next thing I knew I was applying for graduate programs in this very field.

It didn’t take long after entering into my graduate assistantship for a two year masters program in higher education - administration to realize that there was a veil in front of my face as an undergraduate college student, a certain romanticization that I was able to maintain because I had no sense of the level and depth of bureaucratic mayhem that was going on behind that veil. And that’s really saying, because a) I was one of those super involved student leaders– I had so many officer titles in my email signature, it was unwieldy – and one of those leadership hats was planning MBLGTACC 2014 so my combined leadership experiences required a closer relationship with a variety of campus administrators than the average college student.

And on top of having a variety of relationships with administrators and thus a growing familiarity with many campus operations and systems, I was also editor-in-chief of my university’s independent student newspaper. Wearing this journalism hat, I was nosy. I asked a lot of questions of the folks I’d already started to make these valuable connections and was having candid conversations with, and I wrote about structural inequities in ways that got me called an anarchist, one of the three stooges, and always having an agenda cuz I wanted to cover queer shit.

Alllll of this to sayyyy, I spent a lot of my college time being very close and intimate with campus systems – using them as a student leader, commenting on them as a student frequently asked to weigh in on institutional changes (so many focus groups), investigating them as a reporter, etc. So to STILL NOT KNOW how bleak being a student affairs professional would feel like, how stunting, how suffocating, how limiting– until I was already in it, was wild and flavoured my entire two years of being a 20-hours-on-paper-but-40-plus-hours-in-reality graduate employee, taking evening classes in a graduate cohort that was often divided into folks who were just there to get their diploma and folks who were there to change the educational opportunities of their communities, in the repulsively Red State of Kansas but in an alleged purple dot… I will write a book about this one day, but today is not that day. This, my friends, is just a quick blip of how I arrived here– as a higher education practitioner aka an educator-who-envisions-something-much-better-but-has-to-pay-some-bills-too.

If we follow my student affairs genealogy back to the key folks who played the biggest role in inspiring me to head into higher education, Dr. Jonathan Pryor is prominent in my academic family tree. Not carrying the doctor title just yet when we first met, Jonathan was a young, doe-eyed emerging professional who had just started as the new queer for career in our campus's leadership and involvement office. But due to a history that neither of us were very familiar with that pinned the LGBTQ+ student club against the very office he worked in, there was a long period of time where Jonathan, and this is from my perspective as a student, was kept away from our student club while simultaneously expected to execute effective support services for LGBTQ+ students. As you can imagine, that was… difficult.

In many ways it was the selection of our campus as the 2014 MBLGTACC host college that offered some turning points in the relationship between the student club and the involvement office. But more importantly, Jonathan – as a young queer person with an interesting, complex background of being raised in a radically accepting household in Kansas– appeared to be given greater agency to engage directly with students, collaborate on programming with student leaders, and serve as a huge champion and co-advisor of the 2014 conference. In other words, he was given the room to do his job…

What job is that exactly? Well it depends who you ask. A college or university (as an institution) may view the role of a higher education LGBTQ+ Resource Professional as a gesture of inclusion or improving campus climate. Campus partnerships may be forged with other departments on campus and faculty/staff may have interdependent relationships with LGTBQ+ resource professionals/centers that contribute to a wider reaching impact. And then, of course, there’s students– who don’t always even know there’s an LGBTQ+ resource professional/center on their campus, may engage with the center/staff person nearly every day, or may have strong opinions about programming but have never actually attended a single event.

Students, we’re told, are what brings us to work everyday. Students, many say, are what keeps the work rewarding. Please note, those two statements are not the same.

So the job of a higher education LGBTQ+ Resource Professional is not one thing, but there’s one thing that all LGBTQ+ Resource Professional jobs have in common: we fought for their creation and we are currently fighting for their continuation. These positions and centers came by way of demand, comparable to the Civil Rights era influence of Black Studies programs and Multicultural Centers. The history of LGBT centers and staff positions also runs parallel to the history of LGBT+ student clubs fighting for campus recognition or funding. All of these spaces, activities & point of connection on campus likely emerged out of major battles with campus administrators, alumnx associations, boards of education, and other decision makers until they caved in.

Frederick Douglass’s words come to mind when he said “Power concedes nothing without a demand” and there has been nothing that has sprung up on a college campus that centers/serves/affirms marginalized people without those very people first demanding it.

This history is at the foundation of being an LGBTQ+ resource professional on a college campus, which I think brings with it a certain level of responsibility to remind ourselves and others about that history– so that we don’t get too comfortable, so that we don’t get too complacent, so that we think about this history when state legislatures are clipping diversity & inclusion offices out of publicly funded colleges like a Dairy Queen coupon because it “promotes divisive, controversial views” such as offering your pronouns in a meeting.

In the few decades since LGBTQ+ Student Centers and staff positions have formed on college campuses, there’s been a boom of research, journal articles, leadership trainings, professional organizations, social media groups, and other affinity spaces, aiming to give shape, synergy and shared vision to this not-always-clear job of being an LGBTQ+ Resource Professional in higher education.

And remember what Codi Charles said about the “classist cishetnormative ableist white supremacist campuses” we invite marginalized college students into when encouraging them to join the field of higher education? Those are the places we’re trying to do these jobs.

There could be a whole separate podcast that talks about the unique experiences, plights, frustrations, successes, innovations and sheer brilliance LGBTQ+ resource professionals collectively hold. And one day, I hope to promote the shit out of that very show (wink wink). But I offer this scattered array of history and backstory to show how complicated, nebulous and isolating it can feel to carry a share of responsibility for the knowledge building, experiences and livelihoods of the queer and trans students in your campus community.

Because while you’re doing alllll of that, you’re still navigating your own queer and trans experiences in a hostile climate. We aren’t just busy worker bees concerned about production lines and bottom dollars, we’re people with direct lived experiences that mirror the folks we’re supporting. It is emotional, messy, scrumptuous, satisfying, fucked up work, compounded by the underfunding of education, the dreadful impacts of neoliberalism and the rise of censorship banning discussions of race, gender and sexuality in classroom materials.

We go into our workplaces unsure what each day will look like. Sometimes you have a sensational conversation with a student about leveraging queer capital to usurp capitalism, or something like that. And then within the hour you’re talking a student through a low-spoons moment and wondering when was the last time they ate an enjoyable meal? Some days you’re contributing to the final draft of a promising new campus policy that will disrupt anti-trans harassment. The next day you’re putting out a metaphorical fire when there’s derogatory graffiti discovered in the dorms.

Other days, you get a random text message from your mentor and dear friend, Dr. Jonathan Pryor (he’s long since earned his doctor title by this point), asking if you’d be interested in participating in a conference specifically crafted to gather a rockstar lineup of folks to discover top priorities among scholars (aka folks who do a lot of research and some teaching) and practitioners (aka folks who provide direct services and sometimes do research) – the true distinctions can be argued in the comments, I don’t have the airtime but that’s the gist.

ANYWAY, you get a text message explaining that some folks had secured a grant, they were able to fly some folks in for a two day conference, and the core focus would be racial justice & anti-racism work in LGBTQ+ centers. Of course you say yes.

And then a rush of questions kick in:
Who’s gonna be there?
How is this formatted?
What happens when mess occurs, how do we move forward?
How do I ensure I don’t gain from this space more than others?

An internal monologue that stems from years of witnessing what could happen in educational and community spaces when mess wasn’t addressed with care or consideration (or at all). And an internal monologue that stems from having a high responsibility to dismantle systemic racism and also having a high culpability of making mess in my racial solidarity efforts.

Instead of a traditional set of icebreaker prompts for introducing ourselves, organizers of the conference offered a different way to learn about who we would be co-creating space with. We were asked to provide a brief video influenced by questions such as “who are you willing to move with?” “what do you want to get out of this space?” and “what’s your approach to liberation?”

From jump, we were all asked to be vulnerable, while also given agency over what we shared. I talked about the Midwest being my playground and primary scope of reference, the distraction of burnout, and my commitment to abolitionist practices & bridging those practices with my higher education work.

Through these videos, I learned about others’ hobbies, passions, familiar feelings of burnout or stagnation or stuckness in the respective journeys, humility, readiness, curiosity. Something of particular note for me was learning about everyone’s geography & feeling grateful there would be representation of folks with roots or relationship to the Midwest– that the northeast, the west coast and DMV area weren’t the primary representation in this cohort.

In fact, the organizers of this conference were as intentional as they could be about geographical representation, institutional size, experiences, and some other factors, to make for a dynamic group that all descended upon a hotel in Roanoke, Virginia for what we would come to generally refer to as a liberatory think tank.

“There’s a conversation in the room that only these people at this moment can have. Find it.” is one of adrienne maree brown’s principles of emergent strategy. I think the ability for the folks in the room to find the conversation can depend greatly on the facilitation, the environment and the willingness of those in the room to lean into trust– “move at the pace of trust” being another principle of emergent strategy.

As we gathered for the first official day of our liberatory think thank, we were greeted with intentional, caring facilitation, an environment that, while full of alarming artwork, offered our basic needs such as caffeine, food and snacks plus we were meeting during weekdays so we were the only folks using the convention center space & had a small semblance of privacy and quiet to do our think-tanking.

We eased into day one by setting intentions, getting into a mini debate about sweet vs. savory, being honest about what we were each giving up to be in the space, thinking about what our professional work means to us, and being invited to identity what types of gifts we were prepared to provide to this space and what requests we had of those with which we were sharing space.

Through the identification of what gifts we were bringing, we were already starting to take inventory of what contributions could be made, what assets or energy folks possessed and how that could be drawn on to conjure something together. The concept of referring to our contributions as gifts, and also the idea that we can dial our willingness to give our gifts at any time, aligns and resonates very deeply with adrienne maree brown's assessment for creating possibility, which asks about what our gifts are and how are we living in a way that honors those gifts. That "Sometimes the gifts dont' feel like gifts, the bee that stings, the stinging nettle that irritates your skin. But when we look at our ecosystem in totality it is clear how each piece is necessary for the whole."

We were all more likely to come forward with our gifts if our requests were being honored. Such as an invitation to continue leaning into trust. We would also be breaking out into the same small group throughout the experience to help metabolize the big bites we were taking as a large group.

Big bites such as drawing out our ideas of a liberated future, a world we deserve, on large sheets of paper for everyone to view in a gallery-style. Our facilitator told us that by starting with our liberatory possibilities at the beginning of our conference, we wouldn’t be saving them for the end when we were burnt out and tired.

To think that we "deserve" a better world means to practice what Mariame Kaba calls "hope as a discipline." That we would be so audacious to think that we should be granted the levels of comfort, care, safety, pleasure and security that we so emphatically discuss, means that we believe that we as people, sometimes in kinship with non-human beings, would be better off if we realized a potential that none of us have ever seen. That is a truly magical and also frightening amount of trust in our own assertions about what needs to be in place for folks to live relatively simple, joyous, irresistible lives.

It requires of us a level of imagination and creativity to curate examples of how things could be different -- by literally designing and implementing spaces, connections, relationships, events, social outings, gatherings, virtual interactions, literally whatever medium we can think of to provide microdoses of liberated existence. These spaces etc. are nothing but educated guesses about what liberation looks like, feels like, and functions as.

These spaces are the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference, a gathering that shows queer and trans young people an approximation of what it could feel like to exist in knowledge building spaces with hundreds of other LGTBQ+ people at once.

These spaces are LGBTQ+ student clubs on campuses, small-scale ways for LGBTQ+ young people to collaborate, make decisions together and prioritize their own needs and wants.

These spaces are liberatory think tanks in Roanoke, Virginia. Where our group spoke of joy, connection, interdependence, coexistence with nature, and generative disagreements as just a few examples of reaching for liberatory possibilities.

At the third annual Intertribal Native American/First Nations Gay and Lesbian Conference held in Winnipeg, Canada in 1990, attendees came together to discuss that as a result of colonization, a culturally relevant, all-encompassing term for Native LGBTQ+ people didn’t exist, and through their conversation they literally evolved language and created terminology that was more resonant and connected better than the choice terms that were forced onto them as byproducts of colonization. And thus the phrase Two-Spirit was coined.

This is an exact example of how folks came together and had a conversation that was only possible in that room at that exact time with that group of people. Being in a liberatory-conscious conference space allowed them to slow down enough to say here’s all our collective knowledge, here’s all the data and embodied history we have that lets us know this current language does not feel good, that something is amiss, and that we have the skill, gifts and capacity to change the language right now.

“There’s a conversation in the room that only these people at this moment can have. Find it.” applies so deeply to hosting a conference in a time of immense social and global tension.

I can’t help but think about what we do when that group of people have had their conversation, they have found it, what do we do with what we find? How do we share what has been found by these lucky few who were able to gather and have this conversation?

Think tanks and liberation labs have growingly become a model for how folks involved in social justice movements can take the necessary time to give enough pause to really analyze some of the key facets of our current moment and address them in their totality and fullness before moving forward. It (oddly) reminds me of the scene in the original Snow White & the Seven Dwarves where the dwarfs head into the mines and there’s all these jewel tones glittering under the dirt and they use their pickaxes to wrench the sparking gem out and they’re really able to look at all the fractals and prisms of each piece close up.

Again, the emergent strategy of moving at the pace of trust comes to mind, which almost surely means we have to slow down. When we opt into these liberatory think tank type spaces, we’re choosing a pace that is vastly different, a direct counter to the capitalist rapidity that demands we produce for the sake of something other than ourselves. In these liberatory spaces, we get to generate with and for ourselves.

These spaces– should we choose to accept them– are terrifying space because of the inverted pace and also because we are not used to regularly being in spaces where we can truly look at those fractals and look at all the prisms of the jewels, the gifts, that we have around us and set the tone of our own lives.

It's literally like being on a roller coaster, dare I make such a cliche, but we are truly at the onset of the roller coaster clicking upward upward upward in an anticipatory slow pace, we have consented to being here together and we are anticipating what is next. Not knowing exactly what is next is terrifying and yet we know that if all we have to do is get through the initial descent, the initial rush and whoosh of air and allow our stomachs to drop– if we do that together we know that we can move seamlessly and readily through whatever additional motions and maneuvers come next…

None of us who agreed to show up in Roanoke, Virginia mid-June really had a definitive idea of what we would be doing, let alone what we would be unearthing. What we found in our time together is not mine alone to reveal and more gems will emerge as the attendees of this think tank reconvene to determine our next steps, but I can definitely highlight some of the major questions we worked through and some of my own takeaways as I think about my personal role in contributing to anti-racism in LGBTQ+ centers.

We grappled with the major question of “How do we engage in LGBTQ+ student services work that addresses racism and anti-Blackness?” which ultimately was reframed into a more succinct and operable question of “How do we show the ugliness of whiteness AND showcase queer folks’ of colors’ joyous lives?”

By identifying our collective gifts and requests, we were more seamlessly able to brainstorm potential pathways for embarking upon with our collected assets and some supportive outside resources. We generated a shortlist of agreed upon ideas and intentionally made no plan to execute them. And that’s exactly what we needed– the ability to dream and scheme but not feel pressure to produce our findings right away. A gentle agreement that we would revisit these was more than enough.

As we wrapped up our full time together, we centered appreciation in our send-off and one thing we were all grateful about was for once we weren’t the ones facilitating, that we were able to just show up and absorb, lean in and learn– an experience many of us lack on our respective campuses.

As someone who shares in making decisions for a large "Third Space" aka MBLGTACC, I'm interested in exploring how to better connect other "Third Spaces" such as conferences like NCORE, Creating Change, ACPA, and orgs like the Consortium, research associations, etc to seek out and establish accountability to anti-racism that creates a throughline across all of these spaces. This could take the tone of something like community standards, where major events that largely cater to academic, scholarly and educational areas adhere to a good faith set of principles that are informed by feedback, contributions, pushback, history, context and whatever other factors these conferences' overlapping audiences provide.

Guidance and expectations could be included that offer and demand intentionality around location selection, cost of attendance, financial impact, content, and other factors that impact attendee experience. Coordinating conferences and other large-scale third spaces is hard work, because unlike the events we put on on our campuses, conference-like third spaces become people's political and intellectual homes, places that provide a welcome challenge to the classist cishetnormative ableist white supremacist worlds we live in. We make deep spatial connections with the other kinds of connections and sensations we get from being in liberatory conscious spaces. We make meaning and memories out of the exact rooms we've sat in while engaging in conversations that can only take place at that exact moment in time with that exact gathering of people. By creating a throughline of liberatory conscious anti-racism and related work into this wide constellation of Third Spaces, it has potential to enhance how queer and trans communities connected to college campuses think about what could/should be centered in queer and trans spaces.

In other words, when queer and trans folks enter into these Third Spaces, jaws dropped in awe at the vastness of queerness in a hotel lobby or registration area, how is whiteness decentered, how is the joy of queer of color life nestled into the atmosphere of the space(s), what questioning/research/bracing was done around the intended locations of these especially traveling Third Spaces to maximize safety and minimize harm to the land, locals and ourselves.

Our Third Spaces are not exempt from the systemic oppression of our primary spaces, but they do tend to be more flexible, more forgiving, more generative, and more enjoyable than the home and workplaces in which we spend most of our time.

The anatomy of a liberatory Third Space, as exemplified by bringing together scholars and practitioners together to think-tank a shared vision of research around anti-racism in LGBTQ+ Centers, includes:
A slow, steady pulse
A strong core
A shared vision
Interconnectedness and an understanding that all parts play an important role
Infinite joy

I am deeply grateful to the brilliant, motivating group I had the pleasure to spend time with during this think tank and I am eager to see what will propagate as a result of our time together.

Listeners can check out our show notes (aka all the cool extra info in the episode description that I spent my precious time compiling for y’all) for resources that can support others on college campuses in centering anti-racism work in our LGBTQ+ centers.


Our inbox is open for all of your insight, feedback, questions, boycotts, memes and other forms of written correspondence. You can contact us at lastbite@sgdinstitute.org. This podcast is made possible by the labor and commitment of the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity staff. Particular shout out to Justin, Andy and Nick for all of your support with editing, promotion and production. Our amazing and queer as fuck cover art was designed by Adrienne McCormick.