Fly Your FREAQ Flag

UWEC’s freaQweek a celebration of LGBTQ+ identity

Maddy Mortimer, photos by Kelly Irish

TRUE COLORS SHINING THROUGH. UW-Eau Claire’s inaugural freaQweek is meant to engage people both on campus and in the community, like those who take part in the annual Chippewa Valley Pride (above).
TRUE COLORS SHINING THROUGH. UW-Eau Claire’s inaugural freaQweek is meant to engage people both on campus and in the community, like those who take part in the annual Chippewa Valley Pride (above).

This Oct. 7-12, UW-Eau Claire campus organizations are partnering with community groups to launch freaQweek, a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. FreaQweek is a push to reclaim history, to reclaim identities, to reclaim the idea of being a “freak.” Join UW-Eau Claire for a celebratory week of empowerment and representation.

After a successful nine-year run of the Eau Queer Film Festival, which showed films by and representative of the LGBTQ+ community, organizers are taking this event to the next level. The freaQweek student cohort and UWEC’s Gender & Sexuality Resource Center have partnered to reconceptualize the entire event.

“I’ve never accepted that we can’t be the best. All you need is the willpower to do it.” – Christopher Jorgenson, director of the UW-Eau Claire Gender & Sexuality Resource Center, on making the campus more welcoming

“We want to put faces behind the stories,” said Christopher Jorgenson, director of the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center. They are shifting their vision to be more personal, student-focused, and collaborative with other inclusive community events.

Kicking off the week – weather permitting – will be an Oct. 7 concert on the campus mall featuring local queer artists. On Oct. 9, the university is offering admission visits for prospective queer students. This is a time when future students and their parents can get connected with students from the freaQweek cohort, as well as staff from the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center. After a tour of campus, they will end their time together attending a film on campus.

On Thursday, members of the freaQweek student cohort will tell the story of an immersion trip they took over the summer to the Frameline Film Festival at San Francisco Pride. The students brought back the best films and events to Eau Claire to feature as part of freaQweek. In addition to blog posts and video reflections, the students will share their experiences through public presentations.

On Friday, UWEC will host a National Coming Out Day celebration. With free food, music, and good conversation, this event is all about community. More than 40 resource tables will be available and a stage will be open for anyone to share their coming out story.

A queer film festival will run all week, from Monday to Saturday. Films were chosen to give viewers windows into the experiences of queer people from many cultures and perspectives.

UWEC has been working hard to establish a welcoming environment for all. According to Jorgenson, in higher education the LGBTQ+ community has been invisible throughout history, yet its members are the largest underrepresented student population. UWEC hasn’t settled for this. There are now 87 (and counting) all-gender restrooms across campus, as well as the new addition of the Rainbow Floor in one dormitory.

“I’ve never accepted that we can’t be the best,” Jorgenson said. “All you need is the willpower to do it.”


All freaQweek events are free and open to all. They include: Monday, Oct. 7, 11am-1pm, concert featuring queer artists, Campus Mall • Wednesday, Oct. 9, 9am-3pm, admissions visit for future queer UWEC students • Thursday, Oct. 10, noon-2pm, freaQweek student cohort presentations, Woodland Theater, Davies Center • Friday, Oct. 11, 11am-2pm, National Coming Out Day Celebration, Campus Mall – 7pm, special film showing, The State Theatre • Monday-Saturday, queer film festival throughout the week. Find full details at freaQweek.com.

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