Barbecue event welcomes the LGBTQA community


JP Reidel and Ellyn LaPointe

Despite a gray forecast, students, alumni and community members gathered at the Allen House, UVM’s LGBTQA Center, Sept. 9.

The House hosted an annual “welcome back” barbecue for students who identify as LGBTQA, their families and alumni at UVM.

“I felt like I already knew everyone there,” sophomore Cai Shapiro said.

People came together to eat, make crafts and kindle friendships under rainbow flags and decorations.

The barbecue gives a feeling of home for the community and allows people to make meaningful connections, Shapiro said.

Organizations such as Free2Be and the Pride Center of Vermont were tabling at the barbecue.

“For many people, college is the first time they’re being exposed to the LGBTQA community,” said junior Luis Garcia, president of Free2Be. “It’s really cool to see people grow.”

Free2Be is the SGA-recognized LGBTQA organization on campus. The organization is built on fours pillars of intersectionality, social awareness, advocacy and activism, Garcia said.

Garcia’s organization is just one of many that work with the LGBTQA Center to raise awareness and activism in the community, said Kate Jerman, LGBTQA Center director.

“I want people to know this is their center, and if we don’t offer something already that interests them to let us know if there’s something new we can do,” Jerman said.

The barbecue is just the beginning of several events the Center holds throughout the year to bring the community together, she said.

“We do an event called Crockpot Comfort for people to come and just share a meal,” Jerman said.

The Center works to make people feel welcomed from all different backgrounds, she said.

“One of the awesome things about the barbecue and Pride Weekend is the visibility,” Jerman said. “Students from all different areas and backgrounds come together here.”

Karen Butt, tabling for the Pride Center of Vermont, said she felt the welcome back barbecue and similar events are important for the queer community.

“I’m representing two groups here: one is for parents of transgender kids and the other is the trans kids themselves,” Butt said.

Butt and her husband moved to Vermont several years ago to support their daughter who is trans, she said.

“The barbecue looks awesome and I’m just glad to know this is here,” Butt said.

Events like this are important for the greater community as well, she said.