Rutgers is a big school. In fact, Rutgers is a huge school. We have a campus located conveniently between New York City and Philadelphia, two of the country’s largest cities. It makes sense that we would have a broad spectrum of events available for our students. However, not only are there events being held here for students but this university attracts tons of people from all over the tri-state area. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been saved from getting a ticket from RUPD by those conveniently placed “Event Parking Only” signs.
This weekend, April 11th – 13th, Rutgers University held the annual Northeast LGBT Conference on the College Avenue campus! People from areas all over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the US traveled to our school for a weekend booked with different panels, caucuses, and special events focusing on contemporary LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issues.
The whole event was coordinated by The Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities and went exceptionally well. The weekend was filled with awesome activities and events including: trans women’s rights activist and American author, Janet Mock, visiting the school and meeting with attendees and the annual Queer Ball held in the Rutgers Student Center.
Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness, spoke about how the LGBT community is a strong and unified force. She advocated for another trans woman of color, Monica Jones, who was arrested just the day before for prostitution despite being innocent. Mock highlighted that trans women, and more specifically, trans women of color, are constantly targeted and profiled by the police resulting in unjust treatment under the law. She concluded her speech by reading her experience as a high school student during her gender transition from her memoir. The book was for sale at the event and she even held a book signing and took pictures with attendees.
LLEGO, the LGBT organization for students of color, hosted their 7th annual Queer Ball. The event was open for not only conference attendees, but Rutgers students as well. It was held in the multipurpose room in the Rutgers Student Center. The organization provided food for all of the attendees and organized a formal dance that lasted from 8pm until 12am.
Overall, the weekend was filled with great panels and caucuses ranging from suicide prevention and body positivity presentations to safe sex seminars. It concluded with a closing ceremony featuring an educational performance called Trans*scripts that highlighted many key issues trans people face throughout their lives. Rutgers attracted about 600 people from universities from across the country – specifically the Northeast. This weekend served as an example of how diverse and intersectional Rutgers is as a whole and shows that there are always events taking place here that help our campus grow and thrive.