The Maneater

LGBTQ members, allies attend Queer Fall Fling

The event, which was hosted Sept. 3, is the first meet-and-greet of the semester to bring together MU students and faculty interested in LBGT rights.

The LGBTQ Research Center and surrounding hallways overflowed with students, laughter and acceptance Sept. 3 during the Queer Fall Fling.

The purpose of the fling was to bring together members and allies of the LGBT community at MU while providing them with resources and information on upcoming events and student organizations.

The term “queer,” attendee Amanda Prescott said, is used because it is an intentionally vague term for someone who does not completely identify with being “straight.”

“(The fling) is just the meet-and-greet of the semester,” senior Jessica Ellis said. “It just kind of gets everybody together who’s interested in LGBT rights or even just hanging out with people and getting onto first name basis with everybody who is in the community.”

As guests arrived, they were asked to fill out a nametag with not only with their name but also their preferred pronouns. Buttons, bracelets and stickers covered every inch of the tables.

Inside the center, guests helped themselves to free pizza and sodas. A television screen displayed a slideshow of various images, such as last year’s pride photo and quotes and sayings, such as, “Genitals don’t get married. People do.”

People converged into groups all around the room, in chairs, on the floor and out into the hallway. Some played various games including board games and sack toss.

Others made bracelets with supplies donated by the MSA/GPC Craft Studio. Mostly though, people were laughing and filling the room with conversation.

For many, this event meant more than just a Wednesday night activity.

“I actually found out about this event last year,” sophomore Kelsey Rogers said. “I came downstairs and, out in that ... couch area, (was) debating whether or not to come. I didn’t come because I was just too freaked out; I was too new in my identity.”

This year, Rogers not only showed up but also immediately found herself surrounded by new friends.

“It means a lot to me,” she said. “I just met these people in the past two seconds and we’ve already won t-shirts together.”

Rogers said coming to this event meant that she now accepted herself completely.

Freshman Maddy Cihak said she had a similar experience.

“Coming out for me was a very emotional process, and my high school didn’t have anything like this,” Cihak said.

Cihak said that she felt she was immediately surrounded by love.

“It’s very emotional to see all of the queers out in public, unashamed, unapologetic, and not afraid of being who they are, and to be in a community that knows, loves and accepts me,” Cihak said. “I’m not crying right now, but I was earlier.”

People continued to filter into the event throughout the night. If someone stood in one spot alone for more than a few moments, they were approached by another guest and drawn immediately into conversation.

For sophomore Justin Vohm, who transferred to MU halfway through his freshman year, this gathering was the portal through which his friendships were made.

“This is a really fun event and we usually have one at the beginning of every semester,” Vohm said.

As the night was drawing to an end, announcements were made of upcoming events, such as the new Identity Lunches held every Thursday.

Subgroups of the LGBTQ Research Center such as Queer People of Color and Triangle Coalition opened their arms to new members.

“The LGBTQ (Resource) Center is for everybody,” Prescott said. “We’re making efforts to be as welcoming as possible to everybody.”

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