Stepping Out of the Box and Into the Mixer
Gender and Sexualities initiate Queer Mingle to encourage community within student body
March 3, 2017
Filed under Lifestyle
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I don’t know what I was thinking when I heard “queer mixer.” Maybe just some talking over the famous Cal State LA pink lemonade? Then I walked in and found tables arranged around the Los Angeles Room in speed dating style, with a paper sign on each tabletop arranging them by zodiac sign. Somewhat embarrassed, I took a seat at the Pisces table and ate some of the refreshments.
The Gender and Sexualities branch of the Cross Cultural Centers always seems to put out very interesting, out-of-the-box events, and this one turned out to be no exception. The full title of the event was “It’s Not Tindr, It’s not Grindr: It’s Queer Mingle.” The name of the event was sort of a testament to how truly disconnected connecting with people over those well-known apps can be. Alejandro Muro, coordinator for the Gender and Sexualities Center at the CCC, introduced the event. “The reason this event came up is because a lot of us were talking about how we don’t really have spaces to meet other queer folks or allies at the university and outside the university, right? So we hope that this space might not only help you meet a romantic interest but also friends, and ally-ships and just have a space to relax and hang out and enjoy this afternoon” Queer Mingle was a no-pressure, welcoming event that encouraged connecting with people in person in a judgement free environment.
I was sold on the simple take on meeting people, especially for the queer community, because there aren’t many places for them to meet that aren’t centered around alcohol. I spoke with Muro about this to see what they had to say. “In LGBT history, bars have always been kind of like, not always, but like a space of resistance. So anything about Stonewall, like the Stonewall riots…things like that. But I do think that like there should still be like options for folks,” they said. Muro didn’t want to knock meeting romantic interests at bars, however. They added, “so yeah, if you wanna go to a bar, have fun, whatever. But what about when you’re just at school, or relaxing, or if you’re not twenty-one, or maybe drinking’s not your thing, or maybe you’re more introverted so maybe you don’t wanna go to something like that, right? And I think it’s important to meet in a sober space, to kind of just be a person.”
The event began with a huge icebreaker. Everyone had to get in the middle of the room, dance to the Rihanna songs being projected on screens around the room. Awkward dancing on my part ensued, but I was having fun. Then, at the stop of the music, I had to grab someone I didn’t know, and discuss whether or not Beyoncé got robbed at the Grammys. I hadn’t watched the Grammys. I hardly listen to Beyoncé or Adele. Still, I was able to hold a conversation with my person without any long silences. I got the idea then that talking to everyone wasn’t going to be as hard as I thought.
I don’t know if it was the openness of the event or just how nice everyone was, but the rest of the event made me feel like we needed more things like this on campus, and not just as a way to meet people and make friends. As I was shuffled around the room by Alejandro’s prompts, answering fun questions such as “what are you most passionate about?”, “if you could have dinner with someone, living or dead, who would it be?”, and “name three things you would bring with you on a deserted island,” I felt like the mixer would be a great way to hone your public speaking and networking skills. Meeting people at parties and conferences can be so intimidating sometimes, and the layout of semi-forcing you to answer prompts quickly felt like good practice, especially for introverted people like myself.
The last part of the event was to get with some people you particularly connected with to work on a craft together. Paper handouts with a picture of a blank mask were passed around, along with markers. We had to design “the mask we show the world.” This was the most personal part of the mingle, as it was a self-reflection where I had to think about what it is that I feel people see in me the most. Definitely a mind trip.
I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Queer Mingle, and would definitely go to a similar event and would recommend anyone to attend as well. As listed on the Facebook event page, Queer Mingle ultimately was “to make friends and build a stronger community on our campus,” and I truly felt that there.