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‘There is a seat at the table here for everyone’: WKU Hosts Intergenerational LGBTQIA+ Friendsgiving Supper

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Molly Dobberstein

WKU students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members were invited to the second Intergenerational LGBTQIA+ Friendsgiving Supper hosted in the Eva and Jim Martens Alumni Center on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

In the event posting, organizers said the event aims to combat feelings of marginalization and isolation, as well as to promote a more inclusive community by fostering intergenerational connections. 

“We don’t always grow up with other LGBTQIA people in our family or even in our community,” Audra Jennings, history department chair and professor, said. “We often experience the same things without having people to help us share wisdom, share experiences, whether those things are challenges or even delights.”

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The gathering provided attendees the opportunity to expand the community and reach across generations to provide meaningful connections, network with those on campus and in Bowling Green and to share in each other’s experiences.

“That’s the family that you have to create over and over again,” Jennings finished. “That family is life sustaining and that family is so important to queer joy. We hope that tonight, that family gets bigger for you.”

Queer Student Union President Cassandra Wiley spoke of the importance of community and support. She stated that almost 12% of adult Americans identify as not being heterosexual.

“I wish someone would’ve told me that I was not one of the million facing my struggles alone but rather one with forty million other people,” Wiley said.

History professor David Serafini and Admissions Recruitment Specialist Chris Storath shared the importance of visibility and their goals in promoting and providing such. Serafini said that he found it important to attend as both faculty and as part of the community.

Sophomore and Recruitment Chair of WKU Out in Honors, Lydia Rose believed the event to be “a great opportunity to see the community and how it expands beyond WKU.”

“A lot of people are out and happy to be out,” Rose said. “… That doesn’t just end when you graduate.”

The Topper Pride Alumni Chapter focuses on engaging LGBTQIA+ alumni and allies in campus programs by providing a network of shared values and guiding principles to empower the community. The Hilltopper Pride Network serves as a resource to faculty and staff to support an inclusive and equitable campus culture. 

Serafini noted the development of these organizations, which he said did not exist in his time as an undergraduate student. He said it’s a much different environment now and that he wishes to show LGBTQ+ students that there are good things waiting.

“They’ve gone through a lot of things differently than me,” Rose said. “There are long lasting connections, long lasting memories.”

WKU senior Ray Saul, QSU vice president and Student Alumni Associate, expressed appreciation for the development of WKU’s high campus pride rating and initiatives such as the Pride Center and the Stonewall LLC. 

“I am so proud to be a queer Hilltopper,” Saul said. 

Saul also spoke of the growth of Bowling Green Pride and described the local crowd scene as amazing. 

Communication specialist Jessica Basham spoke on the significance of the involvement and support on campus and in the community, saying, “I’m really proud that we’re blazing that trail.”

Attendees and those involved in the QSU, Topper Pride and Out in Honors have continued to provide support, safe spaces and community on campus and locally. 

“We are still working here on this campus, in this state and across this country. We are fortunate on this campus and in BG to have so many resources, organizations and events hosted every single month,” Wiley said.

Wiley expressed her appreciation towards the organization’s regular members and executive board but noted that student engagement has been their biggest challenge. As QSU continues to expand and organize events, they hope to recruit more members and gain resources to achieve their goals.  

“Getting involved and getting out of your comfort zone in these crucial years is one of the best things that you can do for yourself, for the others around you but also the future generation,” Wiley said.

Another Intergenerational LGBTQIA+ Supper will take place in the spring, where Wiley said she hopes to see more students.

“Each one of us can get involved,” Wiley said. “We can make memories, friends, but also start change. There is a seat at the table here for everyone. And it especially helps when there’s free food.”

News reporter Lindsey Coates can be reached at [email protected]

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