LGBTQA gives welcome back BBQ


Libby Camp, Cynic Correspondent

Despite the dreary weather, spirits were high and smiles were bright at the annual LGBTQA Center Welcome Back Family Barbecue.

From 1-3 p.m. Saturday, UVM students gathered at the Allen House, home of UVM’s LGBTQA Center, to celebrate the beginning of the new school year.

The barbecue boasted plenty of delicious food, ranging from hamburgers and hot dogs to the yearly favorite caramel apple station. There were arts and crafts for all families, students and alumni in attendance.

Queer community members turned out to promote pride weekend and their own organizations.

Sophomore Cai Shapiro was one of many students there from the Free2Be organization, an LGBTQA club on campus.

They were most struck by the sense of community and the automatic connection, Shapiro said.

“It’s great to put different members of the LGBTQA community all in one place,” said sophomore Olivia Avery, Free2Be’s social media manager.

It can be overwhelming and hard to find a community centered around something you identify with at a school as large as UVM, Avery said.

Becky Swem, the education and outreach coordinator for the LGBTQA Center, said she wanted the event to bring a family feeling to the community.

“It’s supposed to be like a family barbecue,” Swem said.

Her goal was to connect first-years with the LGBTQA community on campus, she said.

“UVM has this really welcoming and inclusive community,” said Kate Jerman, newly-appointed director of the LGBTQA Center. “To get to be a part of that is really awesome.”

First-years Zoë Holdorf and Sam Parmekan said they were both excited by the prospect of getting more involved with the queer community at UVM.

“I don’t know a lot of stuff about this so far,” Holdorf said, “but I’m interested in learning more and being part of the community.”

Sarah Heath, a representative of the Career Center, said she tabled at the event because she felt it was important for her organization to communicate openly with queer students about their career paths.

“Whether it be ‘should I come out in the interview,’ ‘how do I tell my boss if I’m transitioning,’ or anything else, we just try to guide and help our students,” Heath said.

Interested students can contact Free2Be at [email protected] or [email protected], or find them on Facebook or Instagram with the handle @UVM_Free2Be.