Performances, free food and more were just a few of the great things a part of last Thursday’s Quelcome: LGBTQ+ Welcome Fest at UMD’s Stamp Student Union.
Quelcome, a “welcome festival, and dance party,” hosted by both the LGBT Equity Center and Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA) office, according to director of the LGBT Equity Center Luke Jensen, is a gathering aimed towards providing LGBTQ students with comfort and campus resources at a unique event where they can further connect with another.
This year, attendees were enthusiastic about Quelcome and the differences it had to offer. Junior public health major Jasmine Coltrane, a returning attendee, spoke about changes made to this year’s event, referring to the setup as “more open for socializing.”
Other attendees, such as Prince George’s Community College student Toby Woods, said they were also ready to mingle. “I think it’s cool,” Woods said. “I like the band, really cool turnout and free food is always good!”
Organizations such as Resident Life, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct and the University Health Center appeared at Quelcome as well, with loads of freebies, swag bags and informational handouts.
One Project representative Chelsea Truesdell attended the event to hear from the LGBTQ+ students and see what they would desire from the program, a university course that UMD offers to introduce students to college life.
The University of Maryland Campus Police (UMPD) were also in attendance, and partnered with the LGBT Equity Office to provide aid whenever necessary. Officers partake in Rainbow Network Training so they can be knowledgeable and of assistance to anyone that may fall victim to hate crimes or other related incidents against the LGBTQ+ community.”We come every year to show our support and provide resources for the community of all students,” liaison officer Major Marc Limansky said.
In addition, sex education teachings were available for attendees through condom demonstrations and other exercises.
Gerald De Leon, a peer educator for the University Health Center’s Sexual Health and Reproductive Education program (SHARE), recognizes that people are at different places in their sex education and works to cater to every individual. “I love interacting with different people when I table,” Leon said. “Sometimes we’re the first sex talk anyone has ever had, and others are super experienced and say, ‘I got this.’”
Leon felt the overall tone of the event was incredibly accepting. “I love how inclusive we are. We identify our pronouns because everyone identifies differently and we don’t want to assume anything,” Leon said.
During Quelcome, guests could opt to wear name tags that not only expressed their names, but also preferred pronouns such as “he,” “his,” “him,” “she,” “her,”hers” and “them.” This way, everyone would be aware of how specific people identify and by extension, want to be addressed.
“The use of pronouns is a relatively new movement,” Woods said. “It started with the transgender community, which helped to promote gender fluidity and being able to identify as the gender that you weren’t born as.”
Overall, Quelcome’s goal was to have a fun time; a party, a place to connect and an inclusive space stocked with resources and outreach. Mission accomplished.