Brave Space: Dorian R. Debussy and Christine Sylvester

Alum talks making the University and the country a more supportive place for the LGBTQ-plus community

Two people on a couch with someone in the foreground reading

Robin McHaelen, Executive Director of True Colors, talking to Kelsey O"Neil (Ko) Director of the Rainbow Center on March 22, 2019. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Dorian R. Debussy ‘14 MA, ‘18 Ph.D., grew up in a military family near the Fort Benning Army base in Georgia. After briefly considering enrolling in a military college, they attended a smaller state university in their hometown and then spent time abroad at the University of Oxford. Their undergraduate advisor was an alumna of UConn and shared information about UConn’s Rainbow Center. Debussy was impressed by the support provided to the LGBTQ-plus community in Storrs and thought UConn was the perfect fit for post-grad studies.

Quickly getting involved at the Rainbow Center, Debussy met many friends and mentors, worked as an intern, facilitated the graduate and postdoctoral fellow group, and later ran the Out to Lunch lecture series after former director Fleurette King left for another position. The work proved to Debussy that they wanted to pursue a career in student services rather than go the tenure-track route.

Today, Debussy is associate director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Kenyon College in Ohio, where they have racked up an impressive array of DEI accomplishments, particularly LGBTQIA+ inclusion space. They were asked by the Modern Military Association of America to write the newest edition of “Freedom to Serve: The Definitive Guide to LGBTQ Military Service," which the Biden transition team formally requested ahead of the inauguration

Professor Christine Sylvester, who advised Debussy as they completed their political science dissertation titled: "Lavender Security Threats: Understanding the Histories of Discrimination Against LGBT Persons in the American Military and Intelligence Community,” interviewed Debussy as part of the Brave Space podcast series. The pair discussed Debussy's proudest accomplishments since graduating, what UConn is doing well and what the University can do better to support the LGBTQ-plus community, and which issues Debussy hopes the Biden administration takes up.