UMD’s Queer and Allied Student Union: Gaypril and Campus Climate
Founded even before the Multicultural Center, UMD’s Queer and Allied Student Union (QASU) has been providing space and opportunities for students to be who they truly are, according to QASU board member, Jace Aspling. This month they look to celebrate all identities with their month long celebration, Gaypril.
Aspling said there is a large number and variety of events happening during this years Gaypril. Events such as, sexual health week, gender binary tabling week, and more. QASU will also be holding activities through out Gaypril.
“We are going to have a Queer yoga session and have an open gym night,” Aspling said. He adds there will be workshops such as, “a kink and BDSM discussion night,[and] a panel with queer adults who talk about being out at work.”
Another event Aspling listed is the QASU prom.
“You can go with a partner you maybe could not have in high school,” he said. “It’s like a second chance at prom.”
This years prom is April 26th in the Rafters.
Kyra Hulsebus is a sophomore who joined QASU last year. She says last year QASU was a big part of her life and she continues to stay involved in the organization.
“I usually come in here [the QASU cubicle in the MC] to hang out,” she said. “I’m too busy to go to the meetings but it was nice making friends here and kinda getting to know the community on campus. So now I have people that I know, I have the Drag show I can go to and use to express myself,” Hulsebus said. Though she isn’t on the board she enjoys planning and helping with different events.
“I mostly do sex education, and usually I’ll talk about being Pansexual and what that means because a lot of people confuse that with a lot of other identities. I don’t think Pansexuality and Bisexuality are talked about a lot. I just help educate people on what that actually means so they don’t have the wrong idea”. Though she doesn’t have an exact event for Gaypril this year related to Pansexuality, she is helping with the BDSM and sexual health event.
“I’m doing a BDSM event which is just to appropriately inform people,” Hulsebus said. “We are talking about the BDSM community and getting rid of a lot of the ugly stereotypes with it because like it's not just hard core sex all the time.”
She expressed that its a complex and multi faceted side to the Queer community.
“It’s involved with the Queer community, so we just like to talk about how to be safe, what it is and some of the common misconceptions, how it’s not as scary as everyone thinks,” she said.
As for how the UMD climate is around QASU holding events like this, Hulsebus pointed out that with many groups in the MC, no matter what they’re hosting, there may be some clashing with other students or groups.
“There is clash from a lot of the other student population just because sometimes they don’t understand, sometimes they don’t know what it is, or sometimes they just don’t like it,” Hulsebus said. “I think with the dynamic of anyone in the Multicultural Center there’s going to be clashes even between groups in here. It’s good [UMD’s climate] it’s probably not as bad as it was a couple years ago but it’s still like an ongoing process I think.”
QASU is located in the Multicultural Center (MC). Follow QASU on Social media to follow all the Gaypril events. Their mission statement, according to their UMD webpage is, “to celebrate the diversity and culture of the queer community, engage socially and recreationally to create a sense of belonging among members, educate ourselves and the campus community on issues pertinent to the lives of queer students, empower queer individuals and organizations, and advocate for inclusion, equality, and social justice, of all persons”. It is open and welcoming to all students.