Penn student groups organize QPenn, a week-long event celebrating the LGBTQ community

Student walking on Locust Walk during QPenn events in 2019. Credit: Giovanna Paz

QPenn, the University’s annual LGBTQ celebration week, is set to take place this week from March 20-26 – with events including an interfaith games night, ice skating and a drag show.

The events are organized by various LGBTQ student groups on the campus. QPenn will be largely in person this year for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. There will also be a few hybrid events and a fully virtual event.

“[QPenn] is a week of programming specifically designed to elevate, amplify, [and] celebrate LGBTQ+ voices on campus,” said Xandro Xu, College Freshman and QPenn Planning Committee Leader.

QPenn 2022 kicked off this Sunday with opening words and a mix curated in collaboration with FGLIQa club dedicated to queer students and alumni who are or have been first-generation or low-income students.

The week will end on Saturday, March 26 with an exercise event at Pottruck Health and Fitness Center and Queer Student Alliance Drag Show.

QPenn has changed in the 35 years the event has been held, according to Erin Cross, director of the LGBT center. In 2015, the event hosted same-sex weddings at Houston Hall before the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States.

For Cross, past QPenn highlights have included Laverne Cox’s commencement speech and attending one of QPenn’s drag shows with her parents. Other events over the past few years have included talent shows and “Pride Games” held in conjunction with Penn’s athletics department, Cross said.

“QPenn is important to our community because this is a week where you’re in the spotlight,” Cross said. “But more importantly, it’s a place where people feel they can belong, which is so important on a college campus.”

Both Xu and Cross emphasized that everyone is welcome at QPenn, whether or not they are part of the LGBTQ community.

“I would like to leave the Penn community, our neighbors in West Philadelphia, [and] our Philadelphia neighbors know they’re welcome,” Cross said. “They still have a place they can belong at the LGBT Center and in the LGBTQ+ community.”

Xu also expressed hope that QPenn could be a way for the entire LGBTQ community at Penn to come together.

“I really want QPenn to be this week for us all to come together and really celebrate,” he said. “That community, and the heart of it, is really important for us to experience, to feel like we belong.”

Joseph K. Bennett