Queerfest Events Kick Off

Madeline Stocker

Over the next four weeks, campus will be home to a variety of workshops, art exhibits and guest speakers as part of Queerfest, an annual celebration of LGBTQ identities. This year’s events, which began April 1 and will conclude May 5, serve as an outlet for students to engage with the many facets of queer communities on campus.

Coordinated by numerous campus LGBTQ organizations and individual students, as well as by the Multicultural Resource Center staff, the festival’s events cover a range of topics including a panel discussing the sexuality of pop-culture boy bands, an art exhibit featuring body modification and an international festival of queer tango — all focused on providing students with a deeper engagement with and understanding of LGBTQ issues.

“The purpose of Queerfest is to celebrate the many identities that are represented by the LGBTQ acronym, even those identities that are gender- nonconforming or outside of heteronormativity or heterosexuality, that might not be necessarily represented by the LGBTQ acronym but that exist here on campus,” said Lorena Espinoza, the MRC’s community coordinator. “Queerfest represents those differences while celebrating all of those identities at large, creating space for those identities to feel validated and feel welcome and respected and to create a space where they can also develop.”

This year’s festivities will endeavor to foster further dialogue surrounding last month’s hate incidents, as well as to become an outlet for student expression.

Since the festival’s events are annually selected and operated by students, Queerfest is tailored to provide a lens for LGBTQ students and allies to better understand each others’ thoughts and opinions regarding recent events.

“What is said here stays here; what is learned here leaves here,” said Andre Patton, College junior and president of the Drag Ball committee.

New features this year include the festival’s BURN program, a weekly event that provides a safe space for queer people and allies to workout together, as well as a talk by speaker Urvashi Vaid, director of the Engaging Tradition Project at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. Vaid’s talk, “Irresistible Revolution: Your Activism and the Future of LGBTQ Politics,” will be the culmination of the festival’s many activism-based events.

Senior Class President and liaison for Year of the Queer AD Hogan said they hope Queerfest’s events have a significant impact on students.

“I’m sure some people will have revelatory experiences,” said Hogan. “Some of us will be affirmed and discover that they’re all thinking about gender in a similar way. Some people will meet friends or meet someone they want to date, but what I hope people get out of it is a rooted sense of commitment in envisioning a world in which gender and sexuality don’t define us as perverts or others, but instead it’s just one of the many ways that we’re beautiful individuals in a community.”