Students gathered in large numbers to learn about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Ally Program community and university resources available at the Rainbow Reception on Thursday evening at the University Center Red River and Concho rooms.

Amid the colors of a waving rainbow flag and the sweet aroma of fudge brownies and assorted cookies were students smiling and greeting each other.

Business sophomore Raul Aleman placed a couple of cookies on his plate and wandered around the room, nibbling the confections. He would stop and chat with different groups of people.

Aleman, who identifies himself as gay, attended the event to make new friends and “see what the buzz was about,” he said.

He learned about his sexuality about five years ago. His friends and family support his lifestyle and helped with the transition phase, he said.

“The campus here, we all feel safe,” Aleman said. “And events like these are just needed to our accepting and welcoming.”

The LGBTQA Program, an initiation of the Multicultural Affairs Office, hosted the Maverick Stampede event. It functioned as a platform to welcome the organization to a new academic year and mingle with the university community.

“People who are a part of a marginalized community typically don’t have the academic success as well as the privileges,” said Kasey Catlett, Multicultural Affairs assistant director. “So, it’s important to make sure those resources are provided to our students.”

Students who are engaged on campus and use the provided resources are more likely to succeed, and the event was a way to show engagement, Catlett said.

Some on- and off-campus organizations, such as UT Health Services, Peers Against Tobacco and Westminster Presbyterian Church, set up booths at the event to educate attendees about their services.

LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S., an independent LGBTQA rights and support group, was also present at the event. The organization provides counseling and advocacy resources to the LGBTQA community.

The organization creates a safer environment for the community and promotes equality, president Sharon Herrera said.

“Would you deny your own child a place at the table?” Herrera said about people who are anti-LGBTQA.

While addressing the attendees, Lisa Nagy, interim vice president for Student Affairs, said the event and UTA at large celebrate the diversity on campus.

“UTA is a rainbow of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and ability,” Nagy said. “And, we are proud of that diversity, and we want you to know that you belong here and you belong in Maverick country.”

@neetishbasnet

news-editor.shorthorn@mavs.uta.edu

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