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Queer Valentine’s Mixer brings campus LGBT+ community together

“Be gay, do crimes, and have fun!”  

This announcement is met with a great cheer from absolutely everyone in attendance.  

Why the incredible enthusiasm? Well A) it’s a great phrase. And B) it’s the pinnacle of a shared culture, a phrase that is recognizable and dear to us all.

On Feb. 26, Queer Ole Individuals (QOI), St. Olaf’s new LGBT+ group, hosted their Queer Valentine’s Mixer. It was a flashy, loud, and fun night. Activities included a raffle, a photo booth, speed dating, tarot reading, snacks, games, and dancing. Despite this long list of fun activities, they were not the highlight of the night. All were much enjoyed of course, but they were not the draw of the evening. I asked many people throughout the night what their main reason for attending was. I got some responses about finding significant others, some about the free food, and for one attendee, “to show off my girlfriend.”

But by and large, people were just excited to be represented. There was an incredible ingrained, shared culture among all the attendees. Everyone knew every song, everyone got the inside jokes during Quiplash, and we understood each other. We share these connections, and yet, most of us had never met. Everyone was simply excited to attend an event specifically meant for people like them, something that has been lacking on our campus for a long time.  

Campus used to have a queer group, but they had a slightly different focus than QOI.  They were focused more on discussion, political awareness, and activism. These are all incredibly important topics, but there needs to be a space to unwind as well. Unfortunately, that group seems to have dissipated, but QOI is filling the vacancy for a queer student group on campus.

Being queer in this society is already difficult, so not all conversations about identity have to surround that. Oli Lew ’25, one of the main organizers and hosts of the event, noted the importance of having a space to celebrate queer identities. And we certainly got that. Dancing away to Ashnikko, learning what the future holds — hopefully a cute girlfriend for yours truly — in a tarot layout, we celebrated. It was a night of joy.