Fifth annual BBQueer approaching

Eastern Michigan University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center will be holding its fifth annual BBQueer at Big Bob’s Lake House from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17. This welcome back event for the 2013-14 school year, open to all students and staff members, will demonstrate the scale of support for the LGBT community present on campus.

Along with traditional barbecue food like burgers and hot dogs, there will also be vegetarian options. Food is available for 250 people and will be served on a first-come, first-served basis.

“I think students might not know that we are a gay friendly/queer friendly environment. It puts it right out there because we’re outside, we’re out at the Lake House and there are a lot of people,” Mary Larkin, program coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center, said. “I think the struggles that our students face are twofold. I think a lot of new students don’t know we exist because they come from places maybe where that was not acceptable. And the other part is for a transgender and genderqueer students there’s definitely a different struggle in what they have on this campus to deal with.”

According to Larkin, the entire resource center staff will be holding a raffle with prizes including a rainbow disco ball, a scarf, an umbrella and more. During BBQueer, there will be several discussions held at various tables talking about LGBT issues and introducing those outside the community to EMU students.

Since the first BBQueer in 2008, the event has continued to grow tremendously, attracting between 250 and 400 students over the last couple of years. EMU is one of the most LGBT-friendly campuses that are actively considerate of inclusion of its students, providing resources and a safe environment.

“I think there are a lot of people doing this work on campus,” Larkin said. “I cannot speak for every student on this campus but I would say we are doing pretty good on campus safety. We know that we don’t get a lot of incident reports on that happening. We know that our campus assessment is really good. We’re in the top one hundred assessments in the country.”

For incoming students who are new to the campus and are seeking unconditional support, Larkin and the LGBT Resource Center team are allies for them, introducing them fellow students at events like BBQueer.

“If it’s a regular student who does identify [as LGBT], it’s a chance to see how vast our LGBT community is here and how supportive,” Larkin said. “If it’s a student who doesn’t identify, I would say to come because having straight allies who come to these events is super huge.”

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