Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Theyta and Eagle students attend LGBTQ+ conference

Photo courtesy of @emersonintercultural on Instagram

Members of Theyta and Emerson’s Advancement Group for Love and Expression (EAGLE), two LGBTQ+ student organizations on campus, attended the National LGBTQ+ Task Force’s Creating Change conference in New Orleans from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21. The four student attendees left with lessons they aim to apply to their personal journeys and their involvement on campus. 

“It was nice hearing everyone’s stories,” visual media arts junior and President of EAGLE Alexandria Quigley said. “I feel like I learned a lot about the whole community, not just bisexuality, at that conference. It was great to learn about more intersectionality than I’m used to.”

Staff from Emerson’s Office of Intercultural Student Affairs reached out to members of student organizations, including Theyta and EAGLE, to find participants to attend the conference. The conference itself included workshops, caucuses, and institutes. The caucuses were discussion-based and centered around identities, whereas institutes were six- to eight-hour sessions with keynote speakers and interactive activities. 

For Quigley, the institute focused on bisexuality, which was informative and helpful in gaining insight from other’s experiences. A part of the institute involved discussions on the history of bisexuality and how the community grew and developed over time. Toward the end of the session, attendees were asked to share their vision for the future of bisexuality.

“I really love being queer and being part of this community,” Quigley said. “Growing up in a conservative state for me, being here in Boston and then at a queer conference, it was nice being around so many people that were so open.”

Visual media arts senior and EAGLE Advisory Board member Luka Collins also attended the institute on bisexuality, finding the content of the session valuable in starting conversations about the history of certain sexualities. 

“Very often, we don’t learn the history of sexuality and its involvement in the general LGBT movement mostly because it’s sort of invisible despite 56 percent of the LGBTQ+ community being bisexual,” Collins said. 

One of the workshops Quigley attended centered around changing queer narratives. A reflection prompt posed during the session was “Think of a pivotal moment in your queer journey,” allowing Quigley to “think about what we define as queer.”

“It was a little difficult,” Quigley said, referring to the process of reflecting. “I lost my aunt recently, and she was a big inspiration for me because she was also asexually romantic. We helped each other figure out our identity. It was difficult remembering that, but also nice to remember.”

Some sessions at the conference centered around religious and racial identities. A Theyta Executive Board member who asked to remain anonymous attended a six-hour-long Asian American caucus that featured a panel of speakers and facilitated group discussions. 

“As an Asian American myself, it was cool to meet other specifically queer Asian Americans,” they said. “Being one of the few people of color on our board for now … I want to incorporate more of that into what we do as an organization and hopefully bring more proud, queer people of color into our organization and celebrate our identities together.” 

They found value in the inclusive mindset attendees of the conference exercised. 

“Nobody is perfect,” they said. “A lot of the time, you might relate to someone on a personal level, that being your identity or your racial identity or your religious background, but you don’t always end up with the same opinions. It’s good to keep an open mind, learn from others, and hear their experiences. Learning from other people can be just as important as looking within yourself.” 

The conference also hosted events for attendees to participate in at the end of each day, including an open-participation fashion show. This vogueing event celebrated Black and Latino LGBTQ+ communities through freedom of expression. 

“It was great seeing a whole bunch of people of different identities get up and celebrate themselves,” Collins said. 

Attendees like Collins hope to apply newfound knowledge from the conference to his work on campus. Collins wants to improve Eagle’s membership, having originally gone to the conference to learn more about navigating conversations around queer identity, in addition to being inclusive of sub-communities within the LGBTQ+ community. 

“We want to be all-encompassing,” Collins said. “We want to be there for everyone on campus. Going there, getting an idea of the experiences and struggles that those people face, we definitely did that, as well as getting general resources, information to spread out amongst our membership.” 

Quigley hopes to share what she learned from the conference in her role as president of EAGLE, Emerson’s love and expression student organization dedicated to “creat[ing] a safe space on campus for queer students to find a community.”

“I’m very glad I went for my own sake,” Quigley said. “I learned a lot and it opened my eyes to other people’s experiences.”

Collins found the underlying message of the conference to be one of celebration and the impact on communities. 

“You have to be who you are,” Collins said. “That’s the only way. Being out and loud and authentically yourself is really the only way that our communities are going to come together. The LGBT people are all around, and going to the Creating Change conference, it was amazing to be in that space with over 2000 people all there for a singular goal … resisting the horrible attacks on our community that have been ramping up. There’s power in that community.”

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About the Contributor
Bridget Frawley, Staff Writer
Bridget Frawley (she/her) is a freshman journalism major from Jupiter, Florida. When she is not writing for the news section, she is a morning anchor for Mornings with George Knight of WERS 88.9 FM. She also loves reading, going on long walks, and thrifting.

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