QFest to highlight LGBTQ issues for Northwestern community

Flora Sun, Reporter

QFest, a new queer theater festival, is coming to Northwestern in Spring Quarter 2013.

Initiated by Communication junior Lindsay Amer and Communication senior Jacob Devine, QFest will feature student-created plays that focus on LGBTQ issues.

“We are looking for four to seven pieces of plays, depending on the length of the pieces, how they fit together, as well as the number and diversity of submissions we received,” Amer said.

She said they will pick the pieces by the end of this quarter and then have petitions for directors at the beginning of Winter Quarter.

The idea of QFest stemmed from Devine’s thinking of what he can do as a senior year theater major. After a play he wrote was a part of an LGBTQ festival at another university, he wanted to adapt this concept to NU’s community.

Especially from last year, campus has been buzzing with talk about diversity, and a lot of people are thinking about race, ethnicity and nationality, Amer said.

“Minorities, however, were overlooked within that diversity, especially the broad range of LGBTQ spectrum,” she said. “So we want to bring this element of the diversity and conversation to Northwestern. We also think this is the ‘gap’ in theater. Previous queer plays on campus focus mostly on gay men. We want to broaden that.”

QFest originally started as an independent project but is now partnering with WAVE Productions as a special event. The group is also working on partnering with Rainbow Alliance, Project ShoutOUT and a couple of organizations in the Evanston and Chicago area.

“We very rarely are able to reach out beyond the theater community to get a larger NU LGBT community involved,” Devine said. “QFest is a try.”

Rainbow Alliance has recently been involved in initiatives aimed at helping LGBTQ individuals better identify themselves and make the campus more inclusive. These initiatives include a campaign to add gender-neutral bathrooms and the Guidance and Peer Solutions program.

“Gender neutral bathrooms is an advocacy effort by our group to make NU a more safe and affirming environment for students of all genders, particularly trans- and gender non-normative people.” said Zach Wichter, co-president of Rainbow Alliance and a Medill senior.

GPS is a peer mentorship program open to any student who wants to talk or learn one-on-one about LGBTQ issues.

“It’s really important to have this kind of group at NU because queer issues are increasingly important on the national and international stages,” Wichter added. “A lot of people want to learn more about, or interact with the queer community, and doing all we can to raise its visibility on campus is super important.”

Apart from student groups, the LGBT Resource Center offers services and programs of interest to the LGBT and Allied community at NU. The Safe Space program strives to help allies better identify themselves, and Trans Ally Training aims to educate the NU community about the “T” in LGBTQ who are often overlooked when grouped with lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Also, Straight But Not Narrow is designed for residence halls, fraternities and sororities, athletic teams and student organizations to initiate LGBT dialogue.

Devin Moss, director of the LGBT Resource Center, said Sigma Lambda Gamma is looking to hold a conversation about LGBTQ inclusion within the fraternity and sorority community later this month.

“We work with the larger NU community by helping to spread education and awareness, Moss said. “We also offer advising and student round tables to help support the work of student groups.”

Moss said NU scores 4.5 out of 5 in the LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index.