Transferring in the spring really limited his options in meeting individuals who did not want to venture out into the cold.

So when he received the email about an event for LGBTQA+ and allied students he decided to try once again.

Nicholas Wright, a junior Arabic and economics major, attended Quelcome because like many other students on campus he wanted to meet other gay students and community members, he said.

Quelcome, originally “Lavender Convocation,” was made for students like Wright to meet others in the LGBTQA+ community and inform them they are not alone have many resources open to them.

It’s a friendly reminder for some students, especially for a campus this size.

“In a school the size of University of Maryland, it’s important to intentionally make those spaces because you feel very lost in a population this big,” Shaina Destine, the LGBT graduate coordinator in Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy, said. “You may feel like you’re by yourself. When you have things like this it at least gives you a place to start from.”

Before Quelcome, the event centered around resources for students to know about but the LGBT Equity Center decided to change its approach to a more student-oriented and fun atmosphere for people to attend.

The moment students walked into the Colony Ballroom in Stamp a wave of smells from food wafted toward them, music pumped from DJ India’s station in the corner and the echo of tons of conversation as rang as attendees milled about and talked to each other.

Quelcome not only included appearances from organizations such as the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct but also had a raffle, performances from student bands, such as Midnight Madness, artwork by students on display, a comedian from D.C., Curt Mariah and spoken word.

From start to finish students were given the opportunity to interact with the many resources made available by the LGBT Equity Center and MICA.

“I think it brightens up the campus for everyone,” Casey Garnett, a junior psycholgy and linguistics major, said.

“It’s such a college experience to get a broader look at the world and hopefully go out in the world and making it better since you have had that experience.”

The experiences for students during Quelcome showed the many sides of Maryland’s queer community.

Performers opened up on stage as they expressed their thoughts or experiences, whether it’s hurtful words said by co-workers or the struggle between family, each one brought the room a little closer.

“Do you ever wonder how it feels to be unworthy?” sang one of the performers, David Chavannes, as he played the piano.

“How does it feel to have community? A shared immunity?” he asked. 

But the high emotions turned to laughs every time Curt Mariah, a comedian who emceed the event, jumped onto stage and danced her way toward the microphone to introduce the next performer.

“When you are in a marginalized community, it’s really important to know your voice is heard,” Calvin K. Sweeney, the coordinator of the LGBT Equity Center, said.

“There is still such a need to know that your contribution to the Maryland community is valued and an event like this is super fun but also displays that,” he said.

As the performance came to a close, the lights dimmed and a Pitbull song began to blast as students headed either to the dance floor or to grab a slice of cake.
Wright, with the recently won glow in the dark unicorn pillow secure in the crook of his arm, chatted away with another attendee.  

Naomi Harris is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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