This past weekend, Penn students took a bus up to Brown University to attend the third annual IvyQ conference.

The conference — which attracted about 35 from Penn — was held from Thursday through Sunday. About 420 students in total attended.

The conference was originally the brainchild of an Ivy Leadership summit at Columbia University in the fall of 2009 — at which LGBT student activists conceptualized another summit aimed at educating and raising awareness about LGBT issues.

The idea soon caught on within the Ivy League, and, in 2010, Penn hosted the first-ever IvyQ conference.

“It’s really a one-of-a-kind event,” said College sophomore and Lambda Alliance Chair Hugh Hamilton, who attended last year’s IvyQ. “You have the best and brightest students in the nation from the queer community coming together for a dialogue on LGBT issues.”

This year’s workshops were divided into six categories, ranging from identity issues to sex and body sensitivity discussions.

Bob Schoenberg, director of the LGBT Center, added that IvyQ presented itself as a “good networking opportunity, both with other students and with professionals in the LGBT world.”

In addition to the variety of workshops that make up the conference, IvyQ also hosted keynote speakers, including award-winning women and gender studies author Kate Bornstein and human rights activist Juanita Diaz-Cotto.

For Wharton freshman Christian Cortes, the most memorable experience this year was hearing Bornstein speak.

“One of her slides during her presentation focused on different types of identities that she felt were part of the community, and it went into a whole array of identities that I wasn’t familiar with,” he said. “It was definitely not something I had seen in the past.”

College junior and Lambda Vice Chair of Political Affairs Jacob Tolan, who also attended the conference, agreed.

“She was an amazing speaker,” he said. “Even if I don’t entirely agree with her, I believe that listening to her allows you to think about things on a new level.”

For College senior Victor Galli, who served as Penn’s delegation chair for IvyQ, this year’s conference struck a particularly emotional chord.

“This is actually the last IvyQ that I would, could or should work on,” he said. “I had a lot of emotions while being there this year.”

For Galli, it will be the relationships he has made with other students at IvyQ over the years that will help him move on after he graduates.

“It’s an end of an era for me, but I look forward to seeing every form that it takes in the future,” he said.

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