For some LGBTQ students, Dinner Crew is where they feel “open.”
LGBTQ Dinner Crew is a Student Life program for LGBTQ students to come together in a comfortable space. The program holds dinners monthly and are open to all students.
Each dinner can have a theme, such as queer women of LGBT history as a part of Women’s History Month. These themes feature trivia and games. Most dinners draw 20 to 60 students in the Student Union, according to Fred Brown, a graduate intern for the Intercultural and Diversity Center. Brown said Dinner Crew started in 2016.
But there is always one main focus.
“Dinner Crew is a space and time where we open our doors to LGBTQ students and their allies,” Brown said. “Anyone is welcome to come, but just know that, in the moment of Dinner Crew, this is affirming LGBT identity and that’s the focus.”
Last year’s Dinner Crew was more of a “hangout stop” where students and their allies came to socialize, according to Brown.
“We play trivia games and talk about LGBT history,” Brown said. “The way I run Dinner Crew, I don’t force people to participate but I am high energy.”
He likes to put together sets of questions on a table as a get-to-know each other game. Two students sit on opposite sides of the table and whichever question is in front of them is the one they ask. Questions ranged from “What is your guilty pleasure?” to “What was the best present you gave to someone?”
Brown, an event coordinator, tries to encourage attendees to talk to each other and participate in the event’s games, which are a product of Diversity Advocate interns' efforts. He said he understands why some feel uncomfortable with their sexual orientation, especially when they're new to their identity since he is in the community himself.
“I’m trying to increase my multicultural competence,” said graduate student Aaron Maier. “So I wanted to come to more LGBTQ-like events, so that I feel like I’m a better ally for the LGBT community.”
Maier heard about the event from her friend Wendy Nelson who came for the same reason. Maier and Nelson are both in the school counseling program and hope to become school counselors. Nelson believes that events like this will help her become more understanding.
“So we’re trying to expand our knowledge for all different kinds of groups,” Nelson said.
Anthony Curl, a freshman Native American linguistics major, recently came out this year and started attending Dinner Crew. Curl grew up with a strict religious background and wanted to experience something new.
“I felt really pleased to be [at Dinner Crew] ... this is my first time experiencing openness in a way,” Curl said. “Meeting new people of similar and different stories — just, you know, living in the moment.”
Correction: The event's name "LGBTQ Dinner Crew" was incorrect in a previous version of the article. The previous version also stated that event is usually in the Student Union, but it is always in the Union.
Alexandra Moyen is a staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com.
Alexandra Moyen is the senior features editor of The Spectrum.