Question 3: What resources are in place for the LGBT community in architecture? What resources do you think should be put into place?

Build Out Alliance. QSAPP (Queer Students of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation) at Columbia. Pride by Design. LGBTQIA+ Alliances at various AIA chapters. Instagram. Queeries. Big Gay Architect.”

Designing Beyond the Binary. Out in Architecture. Pride X ASLA. NYC LGBT Historic Sites.”

We were pleasantly surprised to see the number of resources in the answers to this week’s question! Even more excited to see the list being created just from asking. While we think about these different groups and efforts from time to time, even for ourselves we can’t say we’ve sat down and just started listing them out.

As we looked through the list, the organizations, the research and community work being done, it turns out the queer architects have been busy.

Except at the same time:

“There aren’t many.”

“I’ve never seen any resources. I’d love to find community, a group, or directory to find other people.”

“No resources that I am aware of.”

“Outside of initiatives within firms and the burgeoning alliances, there are very few resources, if any.”

We – your beloved authors – often forget that we operate and perhaps even live in a bit of a bubble. Between time spent in the industry and/or the intention to build a network of queer architects as large as possible, we usually know who to reach out to when we need an outside viewpoint; when we are looking for a solution to a particularly thorny problem; or simply when we need someone else’s contact in an effort to help the next queer architect. We know what resources are available to us.

But not everyone gets to say that. To see the comments that there aren’t many – or none – serves to reinforce the idea that while we have made a lot of progress in visibility and advocacy, we still have a long row to hoe. More outreach needs to be done and more connections need to be made, not only by us but by everyone at these organizations as well as the respondents who shared them as resources they turn to.

However, who would we have mentioned ten years ago?

The Big Gay Architect started writing in 2016.
The AIA Chicago LGBTQIA+ Alliance began in 2018, with a handful of conference sessions at AIA events every so often.
Queeries began in 2020 with their first survey launching in 2021.
Designing Beyond the Binary’s research entered in 2022, as did Pride by Design.
Out in Architecture most recently joined this cohort just this past October. 

These are just to name a few, and a few we feel have only begun to gain momentum both in presence but also in broader awareness within the last year. However, that impression may stem more from our increased awareness through 2023 as we started making our own connections versus what was already happening. As we said, the queer architects have been busy.

While some of this awareness has come through things such as social media, increased intentionality, and possibly even from the pandemic melting way geographic divides – it has also come through the opportunities for those within these groups to begin to make their own connections. Having the safety, visibility, and support to continue advocating for, championing, and supporting one another. 

Yet even as the grassroots activity within the queer architecture community continues to gain presence, momentum, and support, more resources are needed. And no one shied away from sharing what they felt was lacking or what they were hopeful to see fall in place.

“…some more defined queer spaces and showing how our lived and shared experiences define the architecture we spend time in would be super helpful.”

“ Firm education on how to be inclusive + equitable to LGBTQ+ employees.”

“More resources for trans people in the office…”

“Maybe even a space to archive queer architecture?”

“Maybe not *another* organization but definitely some major National entity to be a part of to hear about events and people to connect with and workplaces that *are* safe.”

Amazingly, the need for a larger network connecting queer architects was an idea that came through in many responses, not just the one above. Whether that was at the AIA Chapter level with Alliances or at a national level through an as-yet-defined group, having others to share our experiences with, knowing what events were happening in other communities, and resources for mentorship were all important.

“The Alliance committees need to spread to every chapter across America. There are too many queer people out there who are still in the closet and should have a network of like-minded people they can rely on.”

“I think we need more touchpoints for gathering + connecting at all major conferences as well as virtually.”

“There should be more mentorship for supporting diversity.”

“I strongly feel that we need our own coordinate organization (like NOMA) outside of AIA that is by and for LGTBQ folks and can focus on our specific issues and community without having to ask permission from folks outside our community.”

“A network of LGBT architects, consultants, builders or generally people in the construction industry will be very helpful.”

“Mentorship and visibility of successful queer people!! We lost a lot of elders in the AIDS crisis…”

One respondent stated flatly what we started taking away the more we delved into this question:

“Hopefully we keep finding new ways to connect and keep creating a safe space for the future.”

Which is what we are hoping happens as we continue to move forward. That could be within the existing organizations listed above. That could be at the local level with new AIA LGBTQIA+ Alliances. Or that could be a national level, where queer architects could connect and find the support and resources to be successful in the profession.

When we met a year ago – and we are continually amazed that only a year has passed – the immediate question from The Big Gay Architect was whether Pride by Design could be that organization. As we have continued talking with one another as well as other queer architects, we believe more and more that will be the case.

However, as the possibility and final form of a future organization continues to develop, we should all continue to push forward with that intention of connecting more and more queer architects. Resources should be available for every queer architect so they have other experiences outside their own they can draw on and learn from. So they have a connection to guide them through the harder times as they navigate architecture. And, if nothing else, so they know they aren’t the only queer architect in the universe.

If you are looking for organizations in your area to connect with, interested in starting something if you don’t yet have one, or looking for resources in general, please reach out at the following!