Student Groups Organize Annual Queerfest

Holly Mascolo and Natalie Pudalov

This past week, Lambda, along with Advocates, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Studies and the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI) worked to put on Queerfest, a series of events, lectures and performances developed by members of the LGBTQ community. Some of the events this year included a brown bag with a transgender man named Buck Angel who was involved in the adult film industry and a performance by Nao Bustamante. Queerfest started on Monday with a keynote lecture by Kye Allums, the first transgender man to take part in Division I athletics and concluded with a Drag Ball, an event where people dress up in drag and lip synch to popular songs, on Saturday night.

“Queerfest has been going on for years. It used to be called Big Gay Weekend, but was changed to Queerfest I think five or so years ago,” Co-President of Advocates senior Britt Berner said. 

Along with Berner, President of Lambda senior Kathleen Tiley and Treasurer and Secretary of Lambda senior Evan Tomlinson Weintraub also worked on the Queerfest events. Tiley and Tomlinson Weintraub said that Queerfest is a good way of unifying people as well as raising awareness for these groups

on campus.

“The goal is to bring together enough facets of the community and the school in order to plan a week-long celebration of the LGBTQ community in an effort to broaden Colgate’s understanding of the people who identify as LGBTQ,” Tiley and Tomlinson Weintraub said. “Lambda really thrives on Queerfest. It provides an opportunity for the group to come together and represent the community [that] the event is there to support.”

Lambda’s greatest contribution to the event was through Drag Ball. Tiley and Tomlinson Weintraub said that Drag Ball provides a fun way for people to come together and show support for one another.

“It’s a time to say, ‘Look! We might act silly by challenging the prescribed social structures, but it’s all in the spirit of inclusion and happiness!'” Tiley and Tomlinson Weintraub said.

While some of the Queerfest events remained small and more intimate, events like Buck Angel’s brown bag were well attended this year.

“Buck Angel’s brown bag filled Love Auditorium,” Berner said. “Ignacio’s brown bag filled the

Africana, Latin American, Asian American, and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center. We have been very lucky to have such a great turnout to the events so far.”

Berner says that the events are mainly funded by the Budget Allocation Committee (BAC), although some funds come from ALANA and other areas, like Athletics, LGBTQ, the Women’s Studies program and the Broad Street Association (BSA).

Berner noted that the process of planning this series takes a long time, especially because the events span over a week. The groups normally begin planning the week after the event ends and work on scheduling the events for next year’s Queerfest. It takes a lot of commitment and work from many different people and groups on campus.

“Our planning email chains consisted of up to about 20 people at times,” Berner said. “It is a lot of work from all that are involved, but splitting up the tasks makes it manageable.”

When asked what kind of improvements could be made to Queerfest for the future, Berner responded by saying that improvement is not really the aim for these groups.

“We don’t necessarily aim to improve every year,” Berner said. “We aim to create whole new experiences. Last year we tackled bisexuality with our speaker Robyn Ochs. This year we wanted to educate campus on Trans* issues.”

Tiley and Tomlinson Weintraub emphasized the importance of these Queerfest events and their

significance on campus.

“What we, as leaders of Lambda, would love to see for the future Queerfests is more events that bring the whole of Colgate’s community together in this sense of camaraderie,” Tiley and Tomlinson Weintraub said. “To bring all genders, sexual orientations…All people together to celebrate each other’s differences in a light-hearted atmosphere.”

Contact Holly Mascolo at [email protected] and

Natalie Pudalov at [email protected]