For Wharton junior Dan Wolfe, this week marks the culmination of almost an entire academic year’s worth of work.
Wolfe helped to launch the annual QPenn — a week-long celebration of the LGBT community at Penn that began March 18. This year’s QPenn theme is “Do Ask, Do Tell” — a mantra that encourages LGBT youth to disclose their sexual orientation.
At the March 18 launch party, Dean of Admissions Eric Furda took a moment to kick off the week with a discussion about QPenn’s larger importance.
“Silence is complicity,” Furda said. “The responsibility is to make sure that as we step out across Penn’s campus, and more importantly, out into the world, that you do ask, that you do tell.”
Furda reminded the audience that the week is also a celebration.
“I want this celebration to reach out to someone in the farthest reaches of America who thinks that he or she doesn’t have a place to go to college,” he said.
For Wolfe, one of the week’s co-chairs, planning for this year’s QPenn began in April 2011 and picked up momentum in October.
“QPenn is a way to be involved with the LGBT community,” he said. “It’s a chance to really be part of something a lot bigger than any individual group because it’s this overarching week of events that requires so much collaboration between dozens of people and groups.”
According to director of the LGBT Center Bob Schoenberg, QPenn traces its roots back almost 30 years ago to September 1982, when it was then known as “BGLAD.”
“The purpose of QPenn is mainly to educate, to raise awareness and to have fun,” Schoenberg said.
As with past years, this year’s QPenn will be composed of about 20 events ranging from speakers including award-winning poet Andrea Gibson and author Dan Savage — co-founder of the anti-LGBT-bullying “It Gets Better” campaign — as well as the annual drag show hosted by the Queer Student Alliance.
One of the highlights of the week will also be the appearance of keynote speaker Alan Cumming — a Scottish actor and LGBT rights activist who has appeared in movies such as “X2” as well as the “Spy Kids” franchise. Cumming will speak on March 24 in Meyerson Hall.
Rene Grindel, a College sophomore who co-chairs the QPenn committee, emphasized that the week is also designed to raise awareness among members of the Penn community.
“It’s really more about openness this year,” she said. “Penn has been ranked really well nationally in terms of LGBT-friendliness, but still within the community there are lots of people who aren’t comfortable with themselves yet.”
For College freshman Rosa Escandon, QPenn represents a chance to form connections with other parts of campus that the LGBT community may not know well.
“We’re trying to have the community feel more comfortable talking about LGBT issues on campus,” she said. “We also want to celebrate the people of our community.”
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