Walking Home With Awards

By Patrick Bohn ’05, May 23, 2020
Ithaca’s LGBTQ Walking History Tour initiative wins three honors.

Ithaca’s historical LGBTQ walking tour is an informative and critical glimpse into the history of an often-overlooked community. And as of this spring, you can add “award-winning” to its description.

The tour, which was created in 2019 by Rachel Steinmetz ’19, Cal Goodin ’19, Rachel Kreidberg ’18, and Gianna Caputo ’19 with the help of Luca Maurer, director of the college’s Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services, was honored with a trio of awards.

The tour was given the 2020 Exemplary Program Award of the Gender & Sexuality Knowledge Community by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). Additionally, the tour won the Outstanding Social Justice Collaboration Award from the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Commission for Social Justice Education and the Research Recognition Award from the ACPA Coalition of Sexuality and Gender Identities.

Covering more than seven miles of Ithaca and including 32 stops — including several on the Ithaca College campus — the tour utilizes text, images, audio, and video to paint a rich description of the area’s LGBTQ history. It also features an app, created through PocketSights, which means it’s accessible from anywhere, at any time.

Take the Tour

You don’t need to be in Ithaca to take the LGBTQ walking history tour. 

The PocketSights app lets you experience the tour, complete with photos, audio, and video, from the comfort of your own home, both on a laptop or through a mobile device.

It was put together thanks to the collaborative effort of several departments at the college, as well as community organizations such as Ithaca Heritage and Out for Health.

 “These awards are a testament to the multidimensional learning that our students are engaging in,” Maurer said. “The organizations bestowing these awards want to see collaborative efforts, and that’s what this was.”

Another thing the organizations wanted to see? Educational outcomes. And that was a priority from the beginning.

“During the creation of the tour, there were points where the students had to reflect on their experience in writing, and notate what they were learning and how they were being impacted,” Maurer said.

“Many people who took the tour reported a stronger feeling of belonging and connectivity, to both the larger LGBTQ community and the IC community, while at the same time feeling less social isolation.”

Luca Maurer

But the impact of the tour hasn’t just been felt by the creators.

“We surveyed people who took the tour, and asked them if they learned something new about LGBTQ history from taking it, and 100% of them did,” Maurer said. “Many also reported a stronger feeling of belonging and connectivity, to both the larger LGBTQ community and the IC community, while at the same time feeling less social isolation

At the end of the day, Maurer is grateful the tour is able to fill an important role in the Ithaca LGBTQ community. “The walking history tour was about our students’ interests and needs, and I support that,” he said. “It’s nice to get outside recognition for it, but it’s really about our students.”