During the second week of spring quarter at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Associated Students Trans and Queer Commission (TQC) hosted its annual Pride Week. Each day, the TQC put on at least one event, including a fashion show, a vogue dance workshop, and a drag show.
Angellina Querol, co-chair of the TQC, said, “We were trying to bring back events that weren’t able to be fleshed out in previous years.”
The week began with a Trans and Queer Town Hall, which allowed students to discuss the campus climate surrounding the LGBTQ+ community at UCSB. Shortly after, the Queer Fest in Little Acorn Park highlighted many queer businesses, artists, and musicians in the UCSB community. A mural by Dez Porter celebrating Pride Week and the queer community was unveiled. In addition, Henley Gate, Little Acorn Park, and Anisq’Oyo Park were adorned with a rainbow lighting installation.
On April 14, the TQC held a Queer Clothing Swap, which recirculated over 300 pieces of clothing. and was geared towards helping trans and gender-nonconforming students find formal attire for the Queer Prom that was hosted later that night.
About the prom, Querol said, “It was an experience that some of us missed out on because of the pandemic, but we also centered it on this part of our identities.”
To finish the week, over 600 people attended the Pride Drag Show. The event took place in Campbell Hall this year (rather than the HUB where it was hosted last year) in order to accommodate more people. The drag show was hosted by a UCSB Alumni, Coco D Baucherry, who actually began her drag career on a UCSB stage. It also featured two drag queens from Queens of the Castro, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco. And, of course, Monét X Change, the winner of the fourth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” was the headliner.
Pride Week greatly increased the visibility of TQC and the queer community at UCSB. Querol spoke about her struggles navigating campus initially — even with the many resources offered, it was hard to sort out which ones to use. Pride Week enabled the TQC to promote their identity, but also create a community.
TQC’s international student engagement coordinator Allan Ai stated, “The purpose of Pride Week is to show the people, the potential queers around us, that we have a place offered to you.”
These events did not occur magically. In fact, despite the 3-4 hours they contributed each week, TQC even faced some challenges when organizing events. UCSB seemed reluctant to aid the commission in organizing the lights on Henley Gate. “Staff in our workshop would face obstacles from our advisors and other people at UCSB,” Ai reported.
When reflecting on these difficulties, Ai remarked, “I wish that the whole institution could recognize us more.”
Querol added, “We want to have a more collaborative environment.” TQC wants to work with students of the UCSB community to aid them in their endeavors and create change. They are not merely an organization that throws events.
Some of TQC’s current goals are to confront toxic heteronormativity and other aspects of campus that make queer students feel unequal, increase awareness of sexual minorities in STEM fields, and promote intersectionality within the queer community.
“We have lots of connections and resources that are available to people. And, we are here as a family for anyone who needs one.”
I hope a day will come when all people accept each other as they are. Good luck to the students.