The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

LGBTQIA+ Formal: A party for self-expression

Students pose for a photo in front of rainbow balloons in the Wilson Room. (Photo courtesy of Meredith McGee ’23)

Students flocked to Pfenning Alumni Center last Friday night to attend Lafayette’s first-ever LGBTQIA+ Formal. From an ice cream bar to live music, the organizers strove to create a fun and inclusive space for students to be their authentic selves.

According to Meredith McGee ‘23, vice president of OUT Lafayette, an organization which aims to foster a safe and inclusive environment for queer students and allies on campus, queer students didn’t always have the opportunity to express themselves at high school events.

“Having an LGBTQIA+ formal at Lafayette was so important because it’s really the first time away from home for a lot of students on campus, and [we have] the ability to create a space where they can be themselves without worrying about how they’re perceived by adults,” McGee said.

K Massi ‘23, president of OUT, faced this obstacle during high school.

“We’re coming to college to grow into ourselves, and having events like this is part of it. For example, I wore a dress to my high school prom, and that is not how I dress now at all, so it was just great to be able to go to a formal dressing how I wanted to dress. I know a lot of people feel the same way,” Massi said.

According to McGee, OUT’s executive board has wanted to plan Queer Formal since the inception of the organization last fall. OUT and Student Government co-sponsored the formal.

When planning the event, McGee and Massi were particularly concerned with ensuring the space was accessible to all students through its proximity to campus and accommodations for students with disabilities.

“I’m really proud of putting on a pretty accessible event from the college’s standpoint,” McGee said. “It’s a lot of work because a lot of our campus does not have wheelchair ramps or all of that, so finding a space that fits our needs with accessibility was a highlight for me.”

Massi and McGee were excited by the number of students that came to the event.

“We were really, really happy to see how many people showed up and enjoyed themselves,” Massi said.

“Everyone had a smile on their face, which made me really glad,” Shreya Raizada ‘25, director of Equity and Inclusion for Student Government, said.

The event also became an inclusive space for LGBTQIA+ students from other Lehigh Valley schools when eight queer students from DeSales University reached out after seeing the formal advertised on social media.

According to Massi, LGBTQIA+ students at DeSales, which is a Catholic university, are unable to host their own events, so they took the opportunity to join Lafayette’s festivities.

In the future, McGee and Massi hope to bring together more students from across the Lehigh Valley area. For example, OUT plans to host a Pride Week in the spring, culminating with a “Spring Fling” dance. The pair hopes to have students from a number of colleges attend.

“We want to open it up to the LVAIC [Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges] schools because we have this structure connecting the Lehigh Valley schools, but I think since COVID has been with us for so long, we haven’t really been able to experience the benefits of having all of our institutions linked together,” McGee said.

“Involving different LGBTQ+ students in the area would be really, really interesting and fun because I feel like our campus is so small, so we get to know everyone in our little bubble, but expanding outside that could be a really great opportunity,” McGee continued.

Student Government aims to bring similar events to campus in the college’s future, too.

Raizada hopes this formal can provide a blueprint to make future endeavors even more successful.

“I’m taking the feedback that I’m getting from people that attended the event … and just using that to create other events with their concerns and comments in mind,” Raizada said.

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About the Contributor
Madeline Marriott
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. As the Editor-in-Chief, a Mentor Writing Associate, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, co-founder and Vice President of English Club, and a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, no writing happens on campus without her knowing about it. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, a builder of a Hay Day empire, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. She smokes cigars and uses an old-timey typewriter and notepad in the newsroom.

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