Queers and Allies creates safe space for all

Photo+courtesy+of+Kendra+Laupp%0AGAINING+SUPPORT%E2%80%94Executive+board+members+of+Queers+and+Allies+Kendra+Laupp+%28front-left%29+and+Kat+Ehrig+%28front-right%29+join+other+LGBTQ%2B+supporters+during+Marquette+Comes+Out+at+the+Ore+Dock+Brewing+Co.+this+fall.+Organizations%2C+clubs+and+general+supporters+joined+together+to+embrace+the+LGBTQ%2B+community.+

Photo courtesy of Kendra Laupp GAINING SUPPORT—Executive board members of Queers and Allies Kendra Laupp (front-left) and Kat Ehrig (front-right) join other LGBTQ+ supporters during Marquette Comes Out at the Ore Dock Brewing Co. this fall. Organizations, clubs and general supporters joined together to embrace the LGBTQ+ community.

Mary Voet

There are few student organizations at NMU that can proudly proclaim that their club is open to anyone on campus, and Queers and Allies (Q&A) are part of that small population.

“Basically, if you’re not homophobic, transphobic, or racist, you can come to a meeting,” said junior political science Nat Ehrig, co-president of the Q&A.

The Q&A gets together weekly on Wednesdays and is a great way for students to meet other queer people on campus by discussing events and playing games, Ehrig said.

“A lot of people don’t know that they can come to meetings even if they’re not queer,” said Kendra Laupp sophomore criminal justice major and secretary of Q&A. “Sexuality doesn’t come up unless you yourself bring it up.”

Henry Sale, sophomore communications major and club co-president, believes that Q&A is a safe space for LGBTQ+ students to learn about what is happening on campus and how to get involved.

“We always start with a positive ice breaker. So the students can see a brighter part of themselves,” Sale said.

Outside of their weekly meetings with other students, members of the Q&A’s executive board work personally with NMU President Fritz Erickson and the Diversity Student Alliance. Most recently, they went to a training seminar with the president, where many faculty, staff and student diversity groups were present. At this meeting, the Q&A brought attention to the lack of gender neutral bathrooms on campus.

“They had a list of gender neutral bathrooms that were not accurate,” said Ehrig. “Rooms that don’t exist, or are always locked.”

The Q&A executive board has already contacted facilities, and are beginning the lengthy process of getting accurate maps and signs for gender neutral bathrooms. Along with the bathroom issue, the board has been pushing for more training for NMU faculty regarding LGBT+ students, such as understanding microaggressions and hate speech.

Laupp has been working extensively with Northstar EAP, a counseling business that NMU is partnered with, so that LGBT+ students can meet with therapists who are better equipped to deal with the issues that queer students have.

“There are a limited amount of meetings you can go to with Northern’s counseling,” Laupp said. “And students just aren’t receiving adequate help this way.”

Northstar has many professional counselors, and Laupp has spoken personally with many of them.

“These people have a lot of experience because they’re private practices,” said Laupp. “The hope is that we can work personally with NMU’s counseling and see if we can funnel LGBT students in need of counseling straight to Northstar.”

Q&A doesn’t just work behind the scenes, though. They also plan all sorts of events on and around campus. In the past, the club has held potlucks in the library, partnering with organizations like Free Mom Hugs, where students who may be disconnected from their families can receive support from a parental figure. The club also works with Outward, a group for LGBTQ+ middle and high school students.

“We get to hang out with cool queer kids,” Ehrig said. “And it’s really good for them to see queer adults thriving.”

The Q&A’s favorite event to put on is the Annual Drag Show, where they have over 1,000 students attend to see professional drag kings and queens. The NMU 24th Annual Drag Show is from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Vandament Arena and is free for all students to attend.

“There’s not a lot for students to do that’s free,” Sale said. “So this can be something fun to go to.”