Mel Pardock – Staff Writer
On Wednesday, Nov. 30, the Gustavus Peer Assistants hosted an event entitled “Soups and Sexuality” in the Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE). The event was created to give Gusties a safe space in which to talk about the complexities of the spectrum of identity, sexual orientation, and inclusivity. And what better way to convince some freezing cold Gusties to trudge through the snowdrifts to the CIE than the promise of some nice warm soup? Attendees were even given options for their piping hot delicacy– chicken and wild rice, chili, or chicken and dumplings, accompanied by a seemingly endless selection of toppings.
“As one of the DEI co-chairs for the Peer Assistants part of our collective mission is to create events that promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects and also make events that are different from the rest of the ones we have hosted in the past. In one of our many brainstorming sessions, Zach Gbor and I were brainstorming ways to promote identity and inclusion in the fall. With wanting cozy vibes since we all know how Minnesota weather is, we created Soup and Sexuality,” Senior Peer Assistant Jenesis Tompkins said.
“In DEI, we like to focus on groups that we, as the Peer Assistants, think could use our focus or groups on our campus that we haven’t focused on or talked about before. That’s how we came up with Soups and Sexuality,” Senior Peer Assistant Zach Gbor said.
The topic of sexuality is not one that is often discussed in such public and open settings, but the PAs found it to be a crucial topic for students to be able to talk about amongst each other along with someone to guide them. In addition to this, the LGBT+ community and those questioning their identity can be shy and nervous to talk about their experiences, so Soups and Sexuality aimed to ease that nervousness and provide a safe space.
“[Gusties attended the event] because they had a fun and safe environment to learn about the topic or learn even more than they have before, and To have a conversation about gender identity, sexuality and the spectrum. This is something lots of people aren’t entirely educated about, so this [served] as an amazing opportunity,” Gbor said.
Also at this event, Gusties were able to hear Steven Thomas from Minnesota State University in Mankato speak and join in on their conversations. Thomas is MSU Mankato’s interim director of their LGBT Center.
“Stephen Thomas from MSU was name-dropped during training week and I thought [this event] would be a perfect time to use his talents and expertise to promote on the Gustavus Campus,” Tompkins said.
In addition to providing attendees with an informative speaker, a safe and enriching environment in which to discuss the spectrum of identity and sexuality, and some yummy soup, those who attended the event were entered into a raffle to earn some wonderful prizes, including a Comfy, a Squishmallow, a weighted blanket, and more.
All in all, Soups and Sexuality was an event full of meaningful conversation and lots of delicious soups that left questioning and nervous Gusties feeling a bit more secure and warm, in the temperatures of both their bodies and their hearts.