For some people, coming out was not a party. For some people, coming out was the scariest day of their lives. Most importantly: for almost all LGBTQ+ identifying people, coming out is not something you do once but is a constant reminder that their identities are not considered normal. When universities and other institutions host events such as last week’s Queering the Forest, it is not only an excuse to eat rainbow bagels or give away dildos, but also a celebration of queer identities and a reassuring message for LGBTQ+ students, faculty,and staff at Drew: we see you and you belong here.
Queering the Forest was Drew’s first pride week (or at least the first for most of the people currently on campus). It was a week full of events ranging from fun to outrageous, but always with a hint of education, meant to celebrate queer people and make LGBTQ+ identities more visable as well as to educate the general campus community on some of the issues that queer people face. It was a great effort, and the staff who worked hard on a week full of inclusive programming should be applauded. Queering the Forest was everything that Drew students ask for… yet the events were disappointingly empty.
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF DREW UNIVERSITY
While the EC eatery was bursting last Wednesday with loud students trying to get their hands on free sex toys (a great example of how to combine fun with education), both Jason Rodiguez’ talk and the drag show were mostly empty. Combine this with the dirty looks and some of the comments people tabling for rainbow bagels overheard, and it’s obvious why this is something worth talking about, even a week later.
Attendance has always been an issue at Drew events; it is a struggle that all club leaders and every department is familiar with. However, how do you explain an empty room on Friday night when people were fighting for seats two nights before? Is it because there were no prizes advertised for the drag show?
It’s all fun and games when you can get a fleshlight, but the second you are confronted with the reality of the AIDS crisis, or you are invited to celebrate transgender and nonbinary identities, suddenly your statistics homework just needs to get done. Drew students are constantly asking for new, exciting and inclusive programming. So, why didn’t they show up when it was delivered?