A gay old time at ECU

We’ve heard all about funding woes and financial issues and enrollment struggles at East Carolina University.  But,hey, Greenville’s crown jewel is now home to the largest LGBTQ center in the UNC system:

It’s now the largest LGBTQ Center in the UNC-system, located on the East Carolina University, and the state-of-the-art center will now hold the name of one of Atlanta’s most-influential gay activists, Dr. Jesse Peel.“It’s a bit overwhelming. Especially where it’s located and where I came from,” said Peel in an interview with Georgia Voice.

Peel, a North Carolina native, grew up 20 miles from ECU, attended UNC-Chapel Hill for his undergraduate degree and medical school. But at the time, was still a closeted gay man living life in rural backwoods North Carolina.

“I would’ve never imagined something like this when I was growing up. I was such a backwoods kid. I didn’t come out until my 30s. I might’ve been too afraid to go to it if there were a place like this in Chapel Hill,” he said.

After years of working to provide scholarships to students at ECU, Peel joined a selection committee for scholars. Leaders at the university then decided where Peel would best fit.

“They asked me to be involved in their diversity initiative; this was about 14 years ago,” he said. “In 2011, they opened their first LGBTQ resource office. It started in one small room, and it quickly outgrew the space.”

Since then, it’s grown to serve more than 7,000 student visits every academic year. As the college grew close to 30,000 students, talks of a new student center permeated throughout the university. [….] 

Soooooo — are they trying to tell us that nearly a quarter of ECU’s student body is either L, G, B, T or Q ??? (No, wait.  They said ‘visits.’  THAT could be five people just going in there a whole lot.)  FYI — Gallup estimated the number of Americans identifying as LGBT or Q at 3.8% in 2015 and 4.5% in 2018.


[…] Could a new LGBTQ resource center be in the new plans? Peel and others lobbied for any real estate in the new 220-thousand square foot facility.“They not only heard our request, but they also gave us Boardwalk and Park Place. They situated us in the heart of the student center,” said Peel. Along with a vast amount of study space, the 3,200 square foot center also provides students access to a conference room and a lending library that holds more than 500 LGBTQ-related titles. And of course, you’ll know when you’re in the all-inclusive space.

“You’re not going to be able to walk down that corridor without seeing rainbow flags everywhere,” he said. The move really solidifies ECU’s position as a leader in LGBTQ rights in a state that’s seemingly turned red in the past two presidential elections.

“A big red state honey, I love it! The time is really for now,” said Peel, chuckling. “Change is on our side.” The students feel the energy too. Even though it’s a safe place where inclusion will always be a focal point, they’re taking their newfound confidence and understanding of equality, and spreading the messages across campus and around the state.

“The kids that go to this university are mostly first-generation college students. Coming from a rural background, this place is incredible for them. They’re so excited about it,” said Peel. “You tell these kids, look at what the university has given you. They have given you an incredible affirmation that you’re important, that you count.”

The program is still relatively young, about four or five-years-old, and students gain unique experience. ECU sends a group of students to Atlanta for Spring break, a chance for them to experience life in a city that celebrates diversity and not just on college campuses.

“One of the things they said when they were here last year. “Gee, it was just so exciting riding around town, and every once in a while you’d see a rainbow flag,” he said. “We take it so much for granted, and not so much for these kids.”

During the centers official ribbon-cutting and welcoming ceremony on January 12,  Dr. Peel and 350 other attendees from around the state and Southeast spoke to the courage and determination these students have displayed. Each one of them a sprouting part of the future of the LGBTQ world.

“With that comes an obligation. You need to get out there and become your full potential and become the queer leaders we need,” said Peel.

23 thoughts on “A gay old time at ECU

  1. Can’t believe the Republicans did this–or, maybe, I can. The Republican ECU trustees obviously have no respect for the traditional and conservative students on campus. These RINOs are well on their way to turning ECU into a leftist outpost in eastern North Carolina. And the NCGOP can’t figure out why the state is turning blue. Just how much worse can it get with the Stupid Party?

  2. Brother. So, ECU is “hitting the skids”? No surprise! Here’s how this works- it’s just like letting a few Qs in your saloon. Soon enough it’s wall-to-wall Qs, and you’ve lost your saloon! Just how many Red State parents would want little STRAIGHT Jimmy or Janie going to THAT school???

    1. ” Just how many Red State parents would want little STRAIGHT Jimmy or Janie going to THAT school???”
      Probably quite a lot. Those who are not homophobic know that their kids will be fine at an institution that values ALL individuals.

  3. The article is incorrect/misleading! The new Student Center is not named after Dr. Peel. Only the LBGTQ center within the larger center is named for him. All large universities have such centers. The Student Center is not named after Peele! Only the LGBTQ

    “Student Activities & Organizations, Intercultural Affairs (Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center, Ledonia Wright Cultural Center and the Women and Gender Office), Leadership & Service-Learning, Greek Life, and the Crow’s Nest Game Room. Services include Central Ticket Office, Dowdy Student Stores, and Central Reservations which will serve the greater university community are housed within the Center.”

    1. The article does not say that the whole student center is named for Peel. (Reading is fundamental, dude.) Pay attention and reread and then think a little before posting.

  4. LGBTQ complain about being segregated or being singled out but yet have an administrative office JUST for them, hmmm.

    1. What other behavioral groups will now be demanding their own “centers”? This is absurd!

      Our universities condone tearing down historical monuments yet spend gobs of money on groups that engage in perverted behavior.

      Just say NOOOOOO to ANY university bonds.

    1. no it is called redefining our whole society to make one segment of mental illness the standard of normalcy #StopTheLBGT

        1. Well the American Psychiatric Association used to consider it a mental illness clearly is not something that should be promoted celebrated and accepted in our society #OneManOneWoman

          1. They were politically pressured to change that designation, just like they have adopted a nutty “toxic masculinity” standard. The shrinks are nuttier than those on their couches. This is all about politics, not about science.

  5. So we elect Republican legislators who appoint Republican ECU trustees and this is what we get? They tell us they are conservatives, but they are nothing but liars. Why even bother to vote Republican or work in the party? I also looked up who the trustees are–Big Shot Raleigh Republican “bigwig” Kieran Shanahan is the ECU trustee chairman. Disgraceful. Thank you, GOP legislators, for putting him in charge.

  6. You can lay all of this nonsense at the feet of Phil Berger and Tim Moore. They are not conservatives and they are not our friends. Yet they have the gall to send out fundraising letters and emails begging us for money so they can “promote the conservative cause.” These men can lie with the best of them. It is sickening.

    1. They both sold us down the river on bathroom privacy (HB2) and that should never be forgotten nor forgiven. Berger wants to run for higher office, and I, for one, will NOT be voting for him.

  7. HB2 aside, the damage Berger and Moore (and the GOP legislature) have inflicted on conservatives through their disastrous appointments to UNC system boards surpasses anything else. Living in Chapel Hill, I have witnessed firsthand the collapse of Republican trusteeship at UNC. It is even worse than the media reports. Every UNC trustee needs to be replaced. The radicals are now in total control of the campus and faculty.

    1. Yes. Their jointly issued statement regarding Carol Folt and the Silent Sam issue illustrated just what you have expressed. I was disappointed to say the least. I’m sure true conservatives in their donor base will think twice before Donating now.

  8. I seriously doubt the legislature will take any effort to remove Shanahan and the other ECU trustees, but it’s still worth writing to your legislator and asking them to.

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