Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Where are all the LGBTQ+ campus events?

UMass isn’t properly advertising LGBTQ+ events to students, often making them inaccessible
Dylan Nguyen
Daily Collegian (2023)

“This lighting is homophobic. Is there any way we can change it?” Mx. Hors D‘oeuvres joked, earning a trickle of laughter from the crowd of students packing into the Bromery Center lobby. I watched as the lights flickered weakly before turning off in a few sections throughout the room. The first performer walked out, the music faded in and the show began.

From flawlessly executed death drops to comedic audience interactions, the Say Gay! Drag Show was a hit among University of Massachusetts students. With over 250 students in attendance, the showrunners were forced to turn students away due to the capacity limit. That didn’t stop some groups from watching outside the glass if it meant catching a glimpse of the incredible talent of the drag kings and queens performing.

What stood out to me the most was the sense of community that formed among the crowd and performers after such a short amount of time. Students were dancing with each other during intermission, and Mx. Hors D‘oeuvres went out to greet the students watching from outside. Later, everyone pitched in to help take pictures with the performers at the end of the night. It was a heartwarming experience, which is why it was so frustrating that I almost didn’t hear about the drag show at all.

My friend, being a part of the Spectrum floor in Baker, found out about the drag show after receiving an email from her Residential Assistant. After showing me the email, we got a few friends together and headed out to the Bromery Center with little idea about who would be performing at the show, let alone who was hosting it. It was only after the event that I was able to find a singular email advertising the event among a myriad of other campus events. When I attended another drag show held by the WMUA last semester, I had only found out about it a few days before from a friend within the club. It was only after following the drag queens from that performance on social media that I  found more local events within the area.

With the rise in anti-trans legislation, drag bans and a feeling of increasing homophobia and transphobia, campuses like UMass should be showing more support for LGBTQ+ students now more than ever. Aside from the occasional email with an absurd number of hyperlinks and the rare UMass Instagram story advertising events, LGBTQ+ events are primarily reaching students through word of mouth. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there needs to be more advertising available to students to increase accessibility.

UMass mailing lists are becoming increasingly unreliable. Personally, I’ve had enough trouble getting on to the mailing list for my minor, let alone finding campus events catered towards LGBTQ+ students. It’s also relatively easy to miss the mailing lists of clubs that promote or host such events if you aren’t on your toes at the beginning of the year. Social media platforms make information more accessible, although I’ve known many students with such platforms who are still missing these events because they don’t know of the organization’s account. Sometimes, it just comes down to poor social media marketing.

Regardless of mailing lists and social media, advertising shouldn’t fall solely on organizations like the Stonewall Center, which was the organizer of the Say Gay! Drag Show, to advertise these events. UMass seems all too comfortable doing its cursory pride month posts before quickly moving on to their hourly football game updates to ensure students come to a game that they’re only going to postpone again. While my gripe isn’t about football (though I was at that sad game against Ohio), it is evident that UMass is giving a disproportionate amount of attention to certain campus events over others. Imagine if LGBTQ+ events got similar treatment: an hourly countdown to the drag show or even a reminder to secure your invitation to the Stonewall Block Party.

Maybe it’s up to me to stay in the loop, and I should be more diligent in keeping up with finding these mailing lists, constantly checking the plethora of UMass Instagram accounts and attentively watching the campus televisions. However, I feel that a few more signs advertising UMass events off-campus wouldn’t hurt. The campus Recreation Center has had no problem with securing my reservation for Sunset Yoga for three years now, thanks to their pop-up boards. Of course, I have no problem navigating my way to a football game thanks to the diligent efforts of UMass’ social media director. As always, Positive Presence gets my attention with their flyers and little candies. There is a great deal that individual organizations on campus could do to better garner the attention of students, just as UMass itself could do a better job highlighting LGBTQ+ campus events.

UMass still does a great job accommodating the LGBTQ+ community, and it is something I do not fail to appreciate. However, in establishing a community for LGBTQ+ students, UMass must host events that are easily accessible. In the meantime, make sure you tape a note up on your door or in your common room to spread the word about these events and continue to tell your friends about them. Maybe next time, the crowd will warrant a bigger venue and less homophobic lighting.

Hailey Furilla can be reached at [email protected].

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