On Oct. 1, the Office of Equity and Inclusion held their annual LGBTQIA+ Mixer for the first time over Zoom, hosted and organized by fourth-year Cole DiGrazia and fourth-year Ariel Horton. Starting at 6 p.m., attendees funneled into the Zoom meeting. I saw some familiar faces, which is bound to happen, since Whittier is so close-knit, but also some unfamiliar ones.
DiGrazia believes that creating LGBTQIA+ space is important for building community and creating a safe space for students not in an accepting environment. This is especially important during shelter-in-place. People who identify as LGBTQIA+ need these outlets in the form of events to get to know each other and have each other’s backs.
With about eight attendees, the event was considered a success, especially for an online mixer. DiGrazia elaborated on how, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a drop in campus engagement, which, quite frankly, is to be expected. It is not as easy to get the word out about things. After we introduced ourselves, we did LGBTQIA+ trivia, which nearly everyone failed at (Hey, Whittier, where’s our LGBTQIA+ history class?), and, afterwards, we agreed to play Scattergories, which is actually a ridiculously fun game to play over Zoom. Through funny spelling errors and far-fetched attempts to make the words fit in the category, there was great energy and solidarity being formed.
I spoke to one of the attendees, first-year Emma Stone, someone I particularly hit it off with at the mixer. “Although [the mixer] was small this year, since it was online, I really enjoyed the relaxed and laid back vibes of it. . . . I got to know a lot of other queer students,” she said. “The main reason I went to the mixer was because I wanted to get connected with other students who identified with the LGBTQ[IA]+ community.”
In addition to the annual mixers, the OEI is always looking for ways to engage the LGBTQIA+ community on campus. They are holding a space to talk about the chaotic First Presidential Debate that occurred Sept. 29; they will be hosting that at 5 p.m. on Oct. 14. To learn more about the events hosted by the OEI, email Cole DeGrazia at firstname.lastname@example.org. The OEI is also looking for performers for their Drag Show on Oct. 30.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Whittier College