Queer we are

* photo credit in the printed version of this story was inaccurately given to Charley Aguirre. Photo is courtesy of Ariel Horton.

The Office of Equity and Inclusion mixes it up with  TOBGLAD

Ky Watnick

Head Copy Editor

Now that school is in full swing, new events and activities have been popping up all over campus. On Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) teamed up with Trans, Other-Identifying, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian Allies for Diversity (TOBGLAD) to hold an LGBTQIA+ mixer. The event drew students from all different years, all different identities, and all different educational paths.

Upon entering the OEI, students passed through a rainbow streamer doorway and into the party. A table sat against the wall, displaying vegetables, homemade desserts, chips, dips, and, most importantly, name tags and pens. Everyone who came to the mixer was asked to write their names and pronouns on a name tag and display it clearly on their clothing to make conversation easier. In the background, a playlist featuring queer artists set the mood for the first LGBTQIA+ event of the year. The whole building was packed with people, who crowded into the available areas as respectfully as possible. 

Second-year President of TOBGLAD and Diversity Ambassador Cole DiGrazia was put in charge of planning the event with help from Director Jenny Guerra and Assistant Director Kayla Kosaki from the OEI. They started by encouraging everyone to grab some food and mingle. There was something for everyone. “[I wanted] to make sure there was food for people who are vegan or gluten-free,” said DiGrazia. The mixer was meant to be an inclusive event for varying identities, including those with varying dietary needs.

Once it seemed that everyone who was coming had arrived, DiGrazia asked that everyone make a large circle, which traced the walls of the building, so that everyone could see one another. First, there were introductions, where everyone got to learn a little something about everyone else. “I wanted to make sure people were actually talking to each other and getting to know each other a little bit better,” said DiGrazia, “which is why I designed the intros.”

After introductions, DiGrazia started the ice breaker: a queer quiz. The quiz covered everything from the original pride flag colors to the year same-sex marriage was legalized in all 50 states. The winner received a custom 8.5-inch by 11-inch poster of different couples painted in rainbow watercolor. “I found [the poster] online. It was just like, “Free Queer Art.” I still could not find the artist, but that is something I am looking into because it was very cool,” said DiGrazia.

Some announcements were made after the quiz by DiGrazia and fourth-year Caleb Britton. Lavender Graduation, or “LavGrad” as it is so often nicknamed, will be taking place once again this spring. LavGrad is a cultural graduation specifically for those in the LGBTQIA+ community that is put on by those in the LGBTQIA+ community. 

DiGrazia and Britton hoped to attract some new helpers through the mixer, and they were successful. DiGrazia also announced that TOBGLAD would be meeting every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Deihl 118, which brought about many cheers from those in attendance. 

“I think it is important for people to know what is around on campus, and I feel that in the LGBTQIA+ space that we were in, it seemed like the right time to bring up LavGrad and TOBGLAD. If anyone is going to want to know about [them], it is going to be the people at the mixer,” said DiGrazia. 

After the announcements, DiGrazia gave everyone the option to either play more ice breakers or to just mingle. The crowd voted for socialization, so the playlist went back on, and the mixer went into full swing, again with everyone feeling much more relaxed and open with one another. “I was just hoping for a decent amount of people to show up — especially first-years,” said DiGrazia. “About 30 people or so showed up, so my hopes were definitely fulfilled. I would say it was a success.”

The evening was a very positive experience for those in attendance. Friends were made, new clubs were joined, and, overall, people seemed to be satisfied with the event. 

 DiGrazia is thinking of making the LGBTQIA+ mixers a more regular event due to its success, so be sure to look out for future announcements. This article and others addressing LGBTQIA+ people and events on campus can be found on the Quaker Campus’s new online platform: Queer Campus.