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Queer FallFest to help foster on-campus LGBTQ+ connections

The Student Academic Services Building where the UNC LGBTQ+ Center is located, pictured on Wednesday, August 10, 2022.

UNC’s LGBTQ Center is hosting Queer FallFest, which promotes queer-affirming and queer-centric organizations on campus while allowing students to connect with them and fellow students.

The event will be held on Monday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Upendo Lounge in the North Student and Academic Services Building.

Terri Phoenix, director of the UNC LGBTQ center, said T oversaw all programming for the event and worked with the center’s assistant director and administrative support specialist to prepare for the event. 

“One of the things that we know from research is that when people have supportive peers, when they have relationships with supportive peers, that they do better academically, they do better psychologically, and so this event is going to help facilitate those connections with supportive peers,” Phoenix said.

Queer FallFest is aimed to help students get connected with other queer and transgender students and organizations, while also learning what resources are available to them, T said.

Phoenix said T thought Queer FallFest is more personal than FallFest, an annual campus-wide event that aims to welcome back students to campus. 

“I've been to FallFest every year since I've worked at the University, and that's been since 2005, and it's always really fun, but it's kind of overwhelming for some folks, and I think that the smaller, more focused way of connecting with the student orgs is better for a lot of folks,” Phoenix said.

Esmé Kerr, a senior who plans to attend Queer FallFest,  said the most beneficial part of attending will be seeing how connected students can be to a queer community in a university setting.

“Just chatting with other queer people that maybe don't have the same interest as you, because I know that that's always such a comforting thing to me, is just being like, ‘Wow, it's normal to be queer’,” they said. 

Kerr said up until now, they have only met other queer people through WXYC, the University’s student-run radio station. Kerr also encouraged other students to attend Queer FallFest as a way to get integrated into the UNC community.

During the pandemic, Queer FallFest was held virtually. However, Phoenix said holding the event in person will facilitate more conversation and interaction. T said students of all years are encouraged to attend.

Cade Klimek, a rising senior who also plans to attend the event said he has not attended Queer FallFest before and the virtual format the past few years turned him away from it. 

“I think that people kind of have been waiting for a way to really interact with the LGBT Center in a way that isn't virtual,” Klimek said.

Phoenix said T hopes students can take away a sense of belonging, acceptance, and connection to other queer and transgender students from the event.

The center promoted the event on its social media pages — however, Phoenix said T would like to see all identity center events be highlighted more by the University. 

Klimek said he hopes Queer FallFest will be similar to FallFest, which he said had a great atmosphere. 

“There's a feeling of value when people reach out to you and you walk by a table and they see that you're part of the LGBT community, and I think that representation and feeling seen is really important, and it's really validating as member of the queer community,” Klimek said. “And I think that representation is what I really look forward to.”


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