The hallmark of the LGBTQ Mentoring Program is a trusting, confidential, one-on-one relationship between the mentee and an LGBTQ mentor. This relationship provides a venue for the mentee to explore many issues regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in a safe, non-judgemental, supportive, and enpowering environment. Mentors help LGBTQ students to live fuller, happier, and more productive lives.

Mission

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer(LGBTQ) Mentoring Program empowers LGBTQ students to live more full, happy, and productive lives. The mentors aim to support mentees through many facets of LGBTQ identity development. This is accomplished through frank, informal, one-on-one conversations, wherein support and information are provided. Mentors serve as positive role models and provide resource information.

About the Program

LGBTQ identity development is a lifelong process. Unlike many other marginalized and/or oppressed populations, most LGBTQ individuals are not raised in families or community environments that reflect their sexual/gender identities. Thus, mentorship and friendships among “chosen families” of other LGBTQs is often critical to identity and community development.

LGBTQ identity development can begin at any point in one’s life. Regardless of at what age it begins, for most LGBTQ individuals, the “coming out process” evokes many emotions—some of which can be challenging, confusing, and even frightening. It is also a time in one’s life that often is accompanied by feelings of isolation and loneliness. The mentoring relationship provides a safe place for these feelings to be explored.

As LGBTQ individuals meet life’s transitions and milestones, they are often faced with exploring how to integrate their LGBTQ identity into various new phases in life. Mentors can aid with this exploration. They help mentees challenge internalized negative messages and misinformation proliferated about LGBTQ people by peers, family, social institutions, and the mass media. Internalized negative and inaccurate messages can take a psychological toll. Mentors help by replacing myths and stereotypes with accurate information. Through this program, LGBTQ students are encouraged to develop positive LGBTQ identities.

Mentor Program FAQ

Who are the mentors?
Mentors are UC Irvine students, faculty, or staff members who have worked through their own LGBTQ coming out process, and have had experience negotiating life as an LGBTQ individual. It is this personal understanding that makes mentors particularly well suited to help others.
What would mentors and mentees typically do together?

Mentors and mentees discuss issues of interest to the mentee. Often discussions center on self-acceptance, coming out to friends or family, same-gender dating questions, safer sex practices, religious conflicts, multiple identities (e.g. being LGBTQ and an ethnic minority). They can also focus on academic or professional issues related to LGBTQ identity. Mentors and mentees explore positive resources together (e.g., Gay and Lesbian Community Centers, the UCI LGBTRC).

Mentors and mentees may attend LGBTQ activities or community events together such as discussion groups, gay pride parades or festivals, gay-comedy acts or gay-related theater performances.

Where do mentors and mentees meet?
Often mentors and mentees meet for coffee or lunch either on or off campus, in public locations. The most important factor is that the mentee feel safe and at ease in the chosen location.
Are meetings between mentors and mentees confidential?
Mentors take very seriously the privacy of their mentees. However, due to the fact that the meetings take place in public, it is possible that friends or others the mentee knows may see the mentor and mentee together. Trust that the mentor will never disclose the nature of the mentor/mentee relationship without the mentee’s permission. The mentors also participate in bimonthly group supervision meetings facilitated by the program coordinator. During these meetings, the mentors receive supervision from the coordinator, and provide support to one another by sharing ideas and resources.
How often do mentors and mentees meet?
Mentors and mentees usually start out meeting weekly. Over time, they may meet less frequently, depending upon the mentee’s need. Meetings are flexible in order to accommodate both mentors’ and mentees’ schedules.
How are mentors and mentees paired?

After a mentee turns in their application and undergoes an intake interview, the program coordinator pairs mentors and mentees based on:

  • Shared characteristics such as their sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Academic and personal interests
  • When possible, we try to accommodate any specific requests a mentee might have if available
What if I don’t like my mentor?
Though it is extremely rare, sometimes mentees are assigned to new mentors if the match is not working out. The program coordinator facilitates this process and change. We want to ensure the mentee gets the support they need in a comfortable and safe environment.

Request a Mentor

  1. Download and fill out the LGBTQ Mentee Application.
  2. Return the application to Carolyn O'Keefe, Psy.D. at the UCI Counseling Center – Student Services 1, Room 202, or email to LGBT.mentors@uci.edu.

Programs Offered

One-on-One mentoring

This is the hallmark of the program. Mentors and mentees arrange times to meet and talk. Mentees can ask their mentor questions, discuss any topics of interest, or just check-in with their mentor.

Support

Mentors provide support for mentees as they connect with the LGBTQ communities. For example, realizing how difficult it can be to walk into an LGBTQ meeting or discussion group for the first time, mentors can attend such meetings with their mentees until the mentee feels comfortable attending on her or his own.

Fieldtrips

Mentors and mentees may go on “fieldtrips” designed to help the mentee get acquainted with the LGBTQ community. Examples of the types of places mentors and mentees have explored include the following: LGBTQ centers; LGBTQ cultural events; meetings, clubs, or groups of interest; LGBTQ pride festivals and parades; LGBTQ film festivals; LGBTQ bookstores, etc. Sometimes groups of mentors and mentees go on outings together and other times mentor/mentee pairs explore on their own.

Workshops

Workshops are attended by mentees along with their mentors. These interactive programs are led by the program coordinator, mentors, and/or psychology interns. Sometimes panelists or guest speakers are brought in to cover specific topics (i.e. parents or religious leaders). These workshops not only provide educational opportunities for the mentees, but they also provide opportunities for mentees to interact and network with other mentees and mentors. Topics may include:

  • Coming out
  • Overcoming internalized homophobia
  • Dating
  • Relationship skills
  • Multiple identities (e.g., intersection of sexual orientation and ethnic/racial identity, gender, religious/spiritual)
  • Religion and/or spirituality

Questions?

Questions about the LGBTQ Mentor Program can be directed to Carolyn O'Keefe, Psy.D. Coordinator/Advisor at (949) 824-6457 or by email at cokeefe@uci.edu or LGBT.mentors@uci.edu.

Interested in becoming an LGBTQ Mentor?

LGBTQ Mentors receive training from professional therapists covering topics such as: coming out, internalized homophobia, multiple identities, mental health issues, substance abuse, bisexuality, transgender issues. As a mentor you will positively impact a LGBTQ student’s life. With your support and care, a mentee may learn to develop a positive LGBTQ identity.

For more information, visit our Opportunities for Student Involvment page.