When the University of Arts’ Queer, Trans and Non-Binary Club was first started early in the fall semester of 2021, the purpose was to make a brave space for LGBTQ+ people to come and talk about their shared/individual experiences.
As co-president of the club, junior Kathryn Szykman, puts it, the club is there to make the LGBTQ+ community at UArts stronger through events, sharing resources and community work—and to carry on that incentive, the group’s largest event is set for next month.
Szykman’s responsibilities with the Queer, Trans and Non-Binary Club is composed of scheduling meetings and workshops, planning events, electing officers, acting as a mentor to their members, and overseeing any changes made to the club. The first event, the Queer Prom, falls under Szykman’s jurisdiction, and it’s something that she’s been planning for quite some time.
“It came to me before the club was even fully processed in a dream,” explains Szykman. “I was also thinking about how a lot of our freshman and sophomores didn’t get the chance to go to prom because of COVID. As well as being a queer person who went to prom with a man and wore a dress, I wanted to redo my experience and wear a suit to prom.”
The event, which will take place on Friday, April 22, is free to all, and it will be an evening filled with pride.
“[Queer Prom is] an inclusive night of celebrating queerness and togetherness. We will have a curated playlist for guests to dance and sing along to as well as a quiet space along with earplugs for those that don’t love loud music. We are planning on having catered snacks from local restaurants for all to enjoy,” says Szykman. “We will also have a sexual health booth with free goodies and educational information from The Mazzoni Center. We have spent the last few months designing a photo booth area to document the night with most of the supplies graciously donated from Blick Art Materials. We also have a raffle planned with fun prizes from around the city— Transfiguration Studio, South Street Art Mart, etc.”
Although the event is free, there will be a school store booth taking cash and cards. Szykman also says that they are currently working with the University to hopefully have people outside the UArts community come, as long as they are vaccinated. Anyone looking for updates on the event can follow the Queer, Trans and Non-Binary Club on Instagram @thatqueerclub.
“We are hoping to see an increase in club members. Mainly, this event is a space to bring together the LGBTQIA+ college-aged community, and bring some light and joy to our community, especially because of all of the homophobic and transphobic legislation that is being passed in places like Iowa, Florida, and Texas,” the co-president finishes.
During the prom, the club is also accepting donations for the following charities against anti-LGBTQ legislation: The Institute for LGBT Health and Wellbeing (instituteforlgbthealth.org) in Florida; The Help Center, (helpcentertx.org) in Texas; and UnityPoint Health (unitypoint.org) in Iowa.
“For prom, we have reached out to the Philly community and are using vendors with LGBTQ+ and other intersecting identities. They are providing us with food, beverage, raffle items, an art installation, and decorations,” adds Szykman. “If you are interested in donating to our club to help us with the Prom and upcoming events, our Venmo is @thatqueerclub.”