LGBT tailgate may be annual

By James Green

After a “successful” tailgate Saturday, the LGBT Resource Center hopes to hold a Homecoming tailgate next year and possibly make it an annual event.

Charles Schumann, a member of the Presidential Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, said the tailgate was organized as an alternative to the usual annual LGBT welcoming reception and as a means to facilitate alumni participation, which had previously been lacking during Homecoming.

“The one crowd we weren’t really reaching was the alumni,” Schumann said. “We noticed that there weren’t any alumni events for LGBTQ folks at all for Homecoming.”

Although Saturday morning’s rainy weather worried those hosting the event, Prism president Marc Romero said the crowd was just as good, if not better, than expected. During the rain, the LGBT tent was “packed,” Romero said. The alumni turnout also met expectations, Romero said, with many graduates expressing interest in learning more about LGBT groups at NIU.

“A lot of the people involved with the LGBT organizations are trying to get an alumni group together, and a lot of alumni have responded with interest,” Romero said.

Schumann said Homecoming was already a good event for graduates and students, but he hoped the tailgate would provide a good opportunity for students and alumni to meet and create connections. The tailgate was part of a larger series of events being held throughout October, which is LGBTQ History Month.

Molly Holmes, LGBT Resource Center director, said the tailgate allowed LGBT organizations on campus, like Transitions and Prism, a chance to reach out to the general population.

“With LGBT, one of the most important things to have is visibility,” Holmes said. “Just the fact that we’re at the tailgate with other organizations puts us on an equal level with them.”

Holmes and Anne Petty Johnson, Prism’s faculty adviser and a member of the presidential committee, said the event was a success. Although there was some initial uneasiness about the response the crowd would have, LGBT leaders on campus thought now is an important time for discussion.

“Any time you’re in a big crowd there’s potential for negativity, but you have to give the chance for positivity, as well,” Holmes said. “This is something our alumni and our students want, so we’re welcoming everyone to join us.”