The LGBT Center organized the trip to allow students to explore LGBT issues and politics from another culture and compare them with issues that the U.S. LGBT community faces. Political science professor Anne Caldwell, who teaches the course “Queer Politics,” is accompanying them as faculty leader. LGBT Center Director Brian Buford also is traveling with them.

“I think it’s going to be an amazing experience,” Buford said before they left May 14. “Some of these students have never left the state of Kentucky, so seeing another country will be a chance to really expand their world view.”

While there, students and their advisers will blog about their experiences. (Entries are ordered latest first.)

The LGBT Center is the first in the region to offer an LGBT-themed study abroad experience for students who want to learn about life in other countries, Buford said.

The program is something he has wanted to create since he was hired as the first director of the center, he said, because the trip supports one of the university’s goals of providing study abroad opportunities and allows students to have an experience that connects with them on a personal level.

“I think people don’t realize how important it is for LGBT people to learn about their own history and culture, so that’s a big focus of the trip, for our students to discover what a rich history the global LGBT community has.”

Before they return May 29, students will visit the city of Athens and the island Lesvos to learn about LGBT history, and they also will visit such organizations as the Panteion University Center for Gender Studies, the Gay-Lesbian Community of Greece and Colour Youth. On the International Day against Homophobia, they will volunteer service hours and participate in sharing their coming-out stories doing street activism with Greek youth.

Senior Sam Speaks said she’s looking forward to the experience, including traveling with her peers and taking in the culture around her.

“I think traveling abroad is such an important experience to have,” she said.

Student participation in the trip was funded in part through the Feast on Equality, an annual fundraiser that alumni and friends of the LGBT Center host to support student programming.

Brandy Warren
Brandy Warren is coordinator for marketing and communications in UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing, where she manages special events and promotes UofL’s Division of Student Affairs. She previously worked at daily newspapers in Kentucky and Alabama.