Each fall, the Texas A&M LGBTQ+ Pride Center coordinates the Rainbow Resource Fair, an event where students are able to browse LGBTQ+ supporting resources.
The Rainbow Resource Fair hosts various student organizations, departments and community groups with the purpose of connecting students in the LGBTQ+ community to queer-affirming resources. The event is a place for LGBTQ+ students to find groups that support them in a variety of ways. These resources can help those in the community achieve a sense of belonging and find like-minded individuals.
Director of Gender & Sexual Diversity Heather Wheeler said the purpose of the Rainbow Resource Fair is to provide an opportunity for those in the LGBTQ+ community to find affirming organizations.
“Especially for those who are new to the Bryan-College Station area, it can be hard to fund a safe space,” Wheeler said. “While departments on campus are working to create more of those safe spaces, there are certain organizations that can help people feel welcome and affirmed.”
In addition to the colorful array of booths, Wheeler said the fair will offer food, carnival games and prizes. It will be a hybrid event, taking place both in-person and virtually.
“It will be in-person in the Bethancourt Ballroom on Thursday, Sept. 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” Wheeler said. “There will be a virtual option the following week on our Instagram story that will feature all the same organizations.”
There will be over 30 different organizations attending, including student and religious organizations, community organizations and university departments, Wheeler said.
Executive director of the Pride Community Center, a Rainbow Resource Fair exhibitor, Katrina Stewart said she encourages students to attend because safe spaces are essential for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
“We live in an area that is not always very favorable to LGBTQ+ students or community members,” Stewart said. “So, any kind of resources that can be had are important, not only to find other people and find a sense of community, but to be able to take care of oneself.”
Formed by herself, an A&M professor and a community member in 2010, Stewart said Brazos Valley’s Pride Community Center is a great resource, offering support groups, community events and training.
“We are also involved with the health district in terms of giving good information and providing good programming,” Stewart said. “We actively work within the community to give voice to and be at the table for LGBTQ people.”
As their last experience at the fair was positive, Fontaney said they were excited to attend this year because of how impactful proper resources can be for LGBTQ+ students.
“The importance of LGBTQ+ affirming resources is having access to educational and financial resources on campus for students,” Fontaney said. “They help increase our experiences in different spaces and provide guidance on who to reach out to and where to go for things.”