Free Thai food served in unlimited quantities, Lady Gaga songs blasting through speakers and a showcase highlighting the talents of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students at UC Berkeley were just some of the offerings at an event known as the Big Queer Event held at the Anna Head Alumnae Hall on Tuesday.
Members of the LGBT population gathered together at the annual event, in an effort to make the larger LGBT community more accessible and welcoming. Hosted by the Gender Equity Center along with the Queer Alliance Resource Center and the LEAD Center, the event included a mix of activities, ranging from acoustic remixes of Frank Ocean and Drake tunes performed by students to a talk by Lea Robinson, a LEAD Center adviser, that elaborated on the extended metaphor of pies in the queer and/or trans, or QT Pie, community.
Some recurring themes for the night were self-acceptance and community. Robinson summed up these objectives in a speech that drew applause from the audience.
“We have to be here for each other … If we’re here for one another, then we can find strength within ourselves,” she said. “We all deserve love.”
After the presentation by Robinson, the emcee facilitated icebreaker exercises before the attendees of the Big Queer Event dispersed throughout the room. The initial apprehensive expressions of guests quickly disappeared as the attendees began to joke with one another and hold casual conversations that continued throughout the event.
Sophomore Madeleine Calvi commented on the necessity for an inclusive and welcoming space where LGBT students and allies alike are free to express their thoughts.
“It can be really isolating sometimes to be queer on campus,” she said. “It’s really important to have these events where we can find each other and find people who can understand where we’re coming from.”
There are more than 20 LGBT organizations on campus, and the Big Queer Event welcomes both these groups and other groups that are not in the LGBT community. Senior Anne Marie Itamura described one of the struggles of being a part of this large community.
“There are so many different queer organizations on campus, and a lot of times you don’t get to meet people when you are not a part of their group,” she said. “So there’s a chance that even though you’re both in the queer community, you will never meet because your paths won’t cross.”
The Big Queer Event seeks to solve this challenge and bring likeminded students together.
“When there’s a space for everyone, where everyone can hang out and get to know each other, it creates community,” Itamura said.
Contact Lauren Ahn at [email protected].