Despite low turnout, Queer Café a hit

This semester’s Queer Café event, arranged by the Queer Student Union to bring members of Temple’s LGBTQI community together, hosted about 40 students last week. QSU President Keith Davis said scheduling issues contributed to the lower-than-usual turnout.

Sophomore Zoe Goldberg picking out food that was out for the Queer Cafe on Thursday (Julia Wilkinson/TTN).

The dance floor was never bare and the provided feast was consumed, but members of the Queer Student Union would have liked for the group’s Queer Café event to conjure a few more attendees than it did.

Queer Café, a semestrial event orchestrated by QSU to increase socialization in Temple’s LGBTQI community, attracted approximately 35 to 40 students last Thursday night in Mitten Hall’s Owl Cove, QSU executives said.

“Thirty people or so do not represent Temple’s LGBTQ population,” said Tyrone Penserga, a sophomore biology major and QSU member. “To be honest, I didn’t think many would show up, but we’ve had a somewhat decent turnout, including a lot of new faces.”

QSU President Keith Davis said the unrepresentative turnout might have been due to last-minute public relations, which occurred due to several rescheduled dates. The Café was originally to be held about a month ago, but was rescheduled because of booking conflicts at the Owl Cove, Davis said.

“We kind of dropped the ball on advertising,” said Jason Williamson, a freshman psychology major and QSU member. “I think we’ll get more people next time.”

Davis said Queer Café has been known to draw QSU positive attention, which has often been visible in the organization’s membership numbers post-event.

QSU Vice President Kate Moriarty said the executive board, which was elected last week, will implement a change in the organization’s structure that could inherently increase membership and participation at QSU social events like Queer Café.

“QSU will merge with [TransAction Student Network, an organization for transgender students], and it will be in effect [in Fall 2009],” said Moriarty, a senior women’s studies major. “TransAction was formed because there were issues that trans people face that weren’t being addressed by QSU. With overwhelming support form the executive board, QSU is willing to address those issues.”

Davis, a junior political science and anthropology major, said the merge will make for a more comprehensive, efficient organization.

“It’s my personal belief that strength lies in numbers,” Davis said. “QSU supports all LGBTQ issues and wants to hold social events like Queer Café for everyone.”

Some members of QSU said the organization’s intentions are often misunderstood, which could be a reason for the dwindling number of attendees at Queer Café and meetings, which is usually about 15 students.

“We’re not so much political activists,” Davis said. “We don’t endorse a candidate, but we do support all LGBT issues. We’re an educational outlet, a network, and we’re more about awareness.”

Penserga echoed Davis’ sentiments and added relaxed social events like Queer Café add depth to the organization’s purpose.

“The group meetings aren’t everything,” Penserga said, “and Queer Café is such a perfect platform for people to network, just get to know each other, especially for a minority group.”

Regardless, members of the executive board said they are pleased with the outcome of Queer Café and are excited for similar events in the future.

“Where the group has been and where it’s going are very different places,” Moriarty said. “For now, we just wanted to throw a party.”

Maria Zankey can be reached at

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