Photography professor continues LGBTQ+ advocacy on campus

For more than 10 years, Delta College Photography Professor Kirstyn Russell has “worked to advocate of LGBT+ student, staff, and faculty.”

Russell, who has been a faculty member for 12 years, serves as adviser to the Delta Pride Club.

When a previous advisor for the Delta Pride Club let Russell know the club could use some help, she was quick to attend some meetings leading to becoming co-advisor for the club alongside Lisa Perez. 

Even though Russell felt she did not have the same experience or knowledge about the club as previous advisors she took on her new role and with people helping her along the way she became an encouraging club member.

In 2018 Russell was one of the main organizers of the art exhibition ‘Queer Voices’ which took place at the L.H. Horton Jr. Gallery. The purpose was to shine a light on the LGBTQ+ culture. “Queer Voices was an amazing oppurtunity to promote queer artists and LGBTQ+ visibility at Delta,” said Russell.

There are many issues close to her heart and being a part of the club further encouraged Russell to advocate for what she believes in. 

“The Pride students helped me feel safer and empowered me to fight for LGBT recognition at Delta. When I started at Delta my contract said that only a husband could take leave when his wife had a baby. Basically leaving out same sex couples that might have a child or anyone who might adopt a child. It seems outrageous but nobody had noticed because it didn’t affect them,” said Russell.

Because of Russell’s significant contributions to the LGBT+ community on campus, colleagues named her a Distinguished Faculty member in 2017. Russell’s work toward making Delta College a more accepting place was cited in her nomination by professors in the Multimedia Discipline group.

Although Russell is no longer the club advisor she continues to be a club member. Russell continues to push for Delta College to be a supportive environment for all students.

“I want them to know they have a safe place to ‘be’ in the Pride Center and that the other students are there to support them. I also want them to know there are staff, faculty, and administrators who go above and beyond to advocate for them,” said Russell.