Members of the MU LGBTQ community kicked off the school year with the annual Queer Fall Fling on Wednesday, courtesy of the LGBTQ Resource Center.
Students hung out at the center to enjoy free pizza and soda, friendship bracelet crafting and a beanbag toss.
“For marketing, this was the biggest thing we pushed at Summer Welcome besides joining the listserv, because it’s our big welcome back,” LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator Struby Struble said. “This is also like the eighth in a row that we’ve done, so a lot of people are used to it happening every time, so they’re excited to come back. It’s really good for people who’ve never gotten involved, but also for the returning students to see everyone again.”
Struble said that attendance was right in the projected range.
“Attendance was probably between (200) and 300,” she said. “We’re really happy with the turnout.”
Students representing various organizations also came by to show their support, including Missouri Students Association President Nick Droege.
“We really like that we see more student leaders coming,” Struble said. “It’s really nice to see that student leader presence, and it means a lot to the students who are involved with the community.”
This year, the center used posters inviting student input on various ideas and events.
Triangle Coalition President Theo Tushaus said the goal was to get comments on various events happening throughout the semester, such as TriCo meetings, Trans Awareness week and Coming Out week.
“We wanted to get more input on a bunch of different things we do,” Tushaus said. “We wanted more student input into what we did as far as programming went.”
Posters also generated awareness for other specific LGBTQ organizations. Lesser known clubs were included, and they invited students to sign up for their listservs amidst the free resource pamphlets, pens and buttons.
Greek Allies was one such organization.
“We wanted the Greek community to be more open, more connected with the LGBTQ community,” said junior Lilly Kraus, a head of Greek Allies.
Kraus explained that the club’s vision was to provide a comfortable environment for LGBTQ sorority and fraternity members.
“That way, anyone who is Greek and LGBTQ feels like they are safe there,” Kraus said. “We’re looking for information, education and mostly being an open and welcoming environment.
Greek Allies plans to have monthly meetings and host outreach panels to sororities and fraternities who want to hear more about the community, as well as those who Kraus said haven’t been exposed to what it means to be in the LGBTQ spectrum.
Another organization of interest was Mizzou OUTgrads, which is specifically dedicated to LGBTQ MU students in grad school.
President Katie O’Donnell founded the club two years ago with a friend when they realized there was no group for “out” graduate students on campus.
“It’s nice to be able to get together with other grad students who know what you’re going through and can commiserate about the grad student experience,” said O’Donnell, a doctoral student in biology. “We realized there was a need for it because I think grad students have slightly different needs than undergrad students.”
When students — both LGBTQ and allies — weren’t busy signing up for listservs or filling their pockets with free buttons, they were also having fun socializing.
“I came here because I heard about it through Facebook, and I’d never actually come down (to the LGBTQ Resource Center)” said senior Brenna Catlettstout, a member of MU’s sexual health advocate peer education organization, SHAPE, and the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center.
Catlettstout said she’d heard about the center through the organization's involvement.
“I did not expect this many people,” Catlettstout said. “This is a great first event to go to.”