QSA welcomes new members with carnival

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Sophomore philosophy major Scott Esonye, junior biochemistry major Lizzie Gray and sophomore philosophy and history major Heather Wong play Twister at the Queer Welcome Carnival Friday afternoon. Many organizations set up games and activities to encourage student interaction.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

The Queer Student Alliance offered a welcome-home to UT’s queer community with a bouncy house, a cotton candy machine and a ball pit.

The student organization hosted its annual carnival Friday in celebration of gay, lesbian and transgendered pride.
Despite the attractions and a dance performance to Lady Gaga’s “Judas,” electrical engineering sophomore Cameron Mousighi said last year’s carnival was his favorite.

“It was the first time I had been introduced to the queer community at UT,” Moushighi said. “It was nice to feel at home.”
Other campus and city organizations that support the GLBT community in Austin came together at the event to facilitate pride.

Trey Edmond, biology sophomore and one of the dancers, said these organizations and events offer a supportive atmosphere that isn’t always easy to come by.

“The community presents a positive outlook on being gay which is harder to find outside of here,” Edmond said.

Zach Frye, co-vice president of QSA, said the organization serves as an umbrella over all gay organizations on campus. He said it provides cohesion to a plethora of specialty groups.

Frye said the event was largely a collaborative effort, but he was responsible for the initial ideas and planning.

He said the purpose of the event was to both introduce old members to new organizations, such as The Queer Chorus, headed by Joey Ovalle and Chris Acosta, and to provide a mixer for new Freshman members to feel welcome.

“I see the event itself as a good way to have people feel more comfortable in their surroundings. Like a mixer,” freshman Mark San Miguel said.

Many freshmen members said this was the first time they’ve been able to fully express themselves and meet people like themselves. Older members enjoy welcoming the newer and QSA provides an umbrella to cover everyone.

According to an analysis of 2010 U.S. Census data by the Austin American-Statesman, the number of households led by same-sex couples in Austin increased by 69 percent between 2000 and 2010, to almost 5,000 households.

“I really enjoy being here. It is very comfortable,” freshman Luke Stahl said. “I wanted to find people like myself.”

Andrew Curtis, a new freshman member, said he feels empowered by the organization and the city.

“I feel free to express myself, fearless of the judgment of others,” Curtis said.