Attendees gathered in the front yard of UNC’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center’s house for games of bean bag toss, ring toss and giant, outdoor Jenga, a building block game. A DJ played classic songs like “Wannabe” from the Spice Girls and “Africa” by Toto from the backyard where seating and catering was available. Hot cocoa, cupcakes and a selection of candies were served.
This was all for GSRC’s annual Coming Out Week House Party, hosted at the center’s new location on Friday. The resource center typically hosts a week’s worth of events for National Coming Out Day, which was on Wednesday.
Ashlee Edwards, a UNC junior and office coordinator for the GRSC, said on National Coming Out Day, the center had Emma Shinn share her experiences as a transgender veteran and lawyer.
“It is just a week to show support for the community and for people who have come out or who, for whatever reason, can’t come out,” Edwards said. “Because coming out is such a hard a thing to do and such a momentous event in someone’s life that it is just a kind of a celebration of that achievement. And of even people who can’t come out, like recognizing we see you and you’re there.”
The GSRC also advocates for the LGBTQ community through its project, the Rainbow Flag Campaign. According to Edwards, the Rainbow Flag Campaign has approximately 100 partners in the program. The project works with participants and departments throughout campus to display a rainbow flag alongside an infographic of the history of the flag detailing its importance to the LGBTQ community. The campaign helps to spread awareness and show support for the community.
The house party was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., which allowed for students and faculty to stop by between classes and celebrate with the center. For some, it was the first time they had been to the new housing for the center, which prompted Stephen Loveless, the director of the GSRC, to provide tours of the new space.
Loveless said every room is painted a color from the LGBTQ flag, so when walking through the entire space the rainbow colors are present.
The first level has a front room which is often used as a space for students to hang out, talk and watch television. It has a kitchen as well, where coffee and tea are donated which is also available for anyone who chooses to use the space.
There are two rooms used as offices on the first level. One is for the graduate assistants, which is additionally used as a walk-in counselor’s office, provided by UNC’s counseling services, during select hours. The other office belongs to the director.
“Funny story about my office: this is the same size as the office we had in the UC,” Loveless said. “So this one office was our entire space last year.”
The second level includes a study room which is regularly used by students seeking a quiet place and free coffee. The second room in the basement is used as a space for group meetings such as the affinity groups that the resource center hosts.
Affinity groups are interest groups for people of certain identities that meet up and connect over their shared experiences. There are currently eight groups, but more groups can be requested under the resource center.
These affinity groups help to expand beyond Spectrum, which is UNC’s romantic, gender and sexual orientation minorities support group. The eight affinity groups are the LGBTQ Christian, Queer People of Color, Queer Women, Gay Men, Transgender/Nonbinary, Ace Spectrum, Queer Crafting and LGBTQ Graduate Student.
These groups use this space to not only connect, but to have the leadership meet up and plan events or do crafts. UNC’s Spectrum is currently working on their upcoming drag show event.
A drag show has entertainers that perform as a different gender. The drag show is on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in the UC Ballrooms. The theme of the show is “Genderflux,” which is a mixing of traditional masculine and feminine elements, according to Edwards who also acts as the co-president of Spectrum. The group expects to have 600 people in attendance of the drag show.
Gender and Sexuality Resource Center
Address: 2215 10th Ave.