All were welcome to eat and learn about resilience at this week’s Queersgiving hosted by the Shippensburg University’s Pride Center.
The event was hosted in the Pride Center on Nov. 19 as a potluck for people of all backgrounds, seeing as the holidays can be hard for many college students returning to harsh family circumstances.
Katie McGonigal, graduate assistant for first year students, originally brought the idea to the center.
“I had some conversations with first years regarding some hard transitions they were facing. One of the students was talking about [how] they were worried about going home for the holidays, because of how they identify,” McGonigal said. “So, I thought it would be nice to have a small get-together for people to start conversations about that and about some resiliency and coping mechanisms for when they go home for the holidays.”
McGonigal then brought the idea to Alithia Zamantakis, the director of the SU Pride Center, as a possible event for all students who feel anxious returning home for the holidays.
“This is the first time we’ve done Queersgiving here at Ship, but lots of queer and trans people around the country do Queersgivings with their chosen family. We decided to do it because Katie was hearing a lot from first-year students who were queer and trans how afraid and uncomfortable they were to go home for the holidays. We decided to do something that would bring folks together; give them a holiday with people who love and affirm them and also a space for conversation around building resilience and how to take care of themselves over the holidays,” Zamantakis said. “We also thought it would be a great way to celebrate holidays without celebrating the colonial or racist parts of those holidays.”
As well as having music playing, the center had a myth versus fact PowerPoint with facts surrounding colonization and the culture of intolerance throughout American history. While the Pride Center hosted the event, Zamantakis credited McGonigal and Christina Zeigler, an intern at the Pride Center, with running and organizing it.
“It’s been really wonderful to be able to see the development of the students over the course of the semester,” Zeigler said. “We have several students who are freshman on campus, and they have never really been able to fully be themselves, and so just watching them build those connections and create those relationships that foster that resilience and really help them to start to create their chosen family. It’s really important in the queer community to have that chosen family of people who really lift you up and help you through times that aren’t so easy.”
The Pride Center’s next event will be holding Lavender Graduation on Dec. 9, for all students.