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QPenn pins were distributed during the annual event in 2005. This year's theme, "The Q and U" will address why LGBT issues are relevant to all students at Penn, regardless of sexual orientation.

QPenn, Penn's annual LGBT pride and awareness week, kicked off this past Thursday and will continue with events and speakers for the community until next Sunday, March 30.

The week is designed to celebrate the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community as well as raise awareness of the issues it faces, said organizers. It is the main event on campus for the LGBT community and its effect is felt by all involved, said College sophomore and QPenn co-chair, Brittany Binler.

This year's theme, "The Q and U" was chosen to emphasize the fact that LGBT issues affect everyone in the community, even though many are not aware of it.

Several different events are planned for the upcoming week - some traditional and some new. All are hosted by one of the eight undergraduate LGBT groups or by one of the several graduate student groups.

Annual events - like the Drag Show and the Kinky Carnival, which typically draw large crowds - are returning Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

"The Drag Show is actually one of my favorite events, so I hope there's a good turnout this year as well," Binler said.

Guests include keynote speaker Dan Savage, an internationally syndicated openly gay American sex advice columnist, and Stacyann Chinn, a spoken-word artist and feminist activist.

"I'm very excited about Staceyann Chinn speaking," said Keandra Dodds, College senior and co-chair of QPenn.

"She's really cool because she's a primary example of what we're trying to address this year. She embodies a lot of overlapping communities because she's a lesbian, feminist, and she has such a diverse ethnic background," she added.

One of this year's new events is the Pride Games, a day of field sports that is a collaboration between the LGBT community and the Students Athletic Advisory Council, which will be one of the first shared efforts between the two groups.

A special effort was made this year, said Dodds, to make sure there were events that included lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer groups on campus.

"QPenn is a great time for people who are not involved to come out and educate themselves or get involved, even in the smallest way," Binler said. "It's also great for LGBT students to see the presence of allies at our events because it feels great to have support from others."

She said QPenn was the event that helped her become comfortable with her sexuality during her first year at Penn.

Organizers also praised Penn's involvement in planning the week.

"The University has done quite a bit as far as being friendly and adhering to its non-discrimination policy," Binler said. "It's good to know we have their support."

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