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Penn students at last year's IvyQ conference. Photo from Abby McGuckin.

This year, 43 Penn students will travel to Yale University for the eighth annual IvyQ conference. The conference, which was first held at Penn in 2010, aims to bring together students in the LGBTQ community from schools across the Ivy League

Engineering sophomore Martina Liu — who now serves as the co-chair for Penn's IvyQ delegation and who uses they/them pronouns — said they are excited to bring many new and familiar faces to the conference, which Liu attended for the first time last year.

“I’m really excited to experience it with others," Liu said. "I feel like I’ll be better prepared to come out of my shell and interact with people from other schools and build lasting connections. I was nervous and kind of shy [last year] so I felt like I didn’t take full advantage of the programming."

Liu recalled hearing from keynote speakers at last year's conference at Harvard University and learning about the intersections between gender and racial identities, as well as the institutional challenges that people with disabilities face.

"All of that was really important," Liu said. “It was one of the things that made the strongest impressions on me last year. I will definitely hold that very close. I definitely learned a lot from that, and it was a topic I wasn’t able to get as much exposure to before.”

The theme of this year’s conference is “Creating Queer Futures,” which challenges students to consider the future of the LGBTQ community “beyond contemporary politics" and to become more aware of how to take action against acts of oppression or discrimination, according to the conference website. 

This year’s keynote speakers include Jacob Tobia, an LGBTQ activist and a media producer for the latest season of the Amazon series, "Transparent," and Moises Serrano, a gay and undocumented activist. Liu said in the past IvyQ has included lot of affinity workshops, or workshops related to niche communities. 

Liu added that Penn's group has worked on bringing as many students as possible to the IvyQ conference to experience the “social and educational components” of the conference. The IvyQ conference started at Penn in 2010 and has yet to be hosted on campus here since. Liu said that it is likely next year’s IvyQ conference will be held on Penn’s campus.

College junior Brendan Taliaferro, who has attended IvyQ for the past two years, said each year, he gains a better sense of his identity in the LGBTQ community. 

“Both times I went,” Taliaferro said, “I walked away with a better sense of acceptance for my identity and a sense of the privilege that I have within the LGBT community, being white, and male, and cisgender.” 

Taliaferro said the conference places a “considerable emphasis” on the need for activism and a true understanding of discrimination within the LGBTQ community.

College sophomore Jess Araten, who identifies as queer, mentioned her interest in this year’s speakers as well as the theme of the conference as a whole. Araten heard of IvyQ by word of mouth and plans to attend this weekend with Penn’s delegation.

“I’m definitely interested in making, in whatever ways I can, the world an easier place for queer people, especially in this current political climate," Araten said.

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