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Mug Club offers safe space for LGBTQ+ students

by SYDNEY HAMILTON

On Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. Mug Club had their first meeting in La Casa Cultural. The group sat together while eating snacks, drinking coffee or tea, decorating blank mugs, and listening to Tony Tyler, Assistant Dean of Students, tell his journey of coming to terms with his sexuality and faith.

Zac Johnson, a sophomore at Drake University, came up with the idea of Mug Club a year ago while talking to friend and mentor Keegan Flaherty. Flaherty is a second year intern staff member of InterVarsity, a Christian fellowship group on campus.

“The reason it’s called Mug Club is we had the idea of the first week while Tony was sharing his story that we all would decorate mugs so we bought blank white ceramic mugs and ceramic markers to decorate each of our mugs how we like,” Johnson said.

Johnson wanted to create the club to allow LGBTQ+ students to have another safe space on campus. At each meeting there is a different discussion topic that the group can explore as a whole group or in small groups. Students can apply the topic to their own lives how they see fit and relate it to LGBTQ+ identity or not. 

At the second meeting they watched a short video then talked about different college experiences for LGBTQ+ students depending how they identify. At the third meeting they discussed metanarratives, ideas or expectations that people use to guide their lives and decisions, and how those affected them growing up to being in college. 

While Johnson and Flaherty are both a part of InterVarsity, the club is not religious, but Johnson does want students to know, “a Christian group on campus cares for these students and wants to create space for them.”

Johnson’s role in the club is planning the content as well as spreading the word about the meetings, whereas Flaherty’s role is more centered on the logistical side of things. For example, Flaherty uses her InterVarsity resources to buy the mugs, markers, and snacks, and then takes care of other things like emailing Tyler or reserving a space to meet. 

Although Johnson would love for more people to join, he does not intend for the club to become a big organization, or to infringe on the impact that Rainbow Union, another LGBTQ+ club, has on campus.

“I in no way want it to be this giant thing because I think there’s beauty in it being a really intimate space for people,” Johnson said.

At the end of the day, Johnson and Flaherty both hope that their club has at least a small impact on LGBTQ+ students and allows for them to have a safe space where they can bring all parts of their identity to the table.

“I think sometimes we feel like we can’t ask students who identify as queer what their spirituality is like. There’s a lot of fear between those two communities,” Flaherty said. “I just want to create a space where they feel like they can engage in that part of their identity.” 

If you are interested in joining, Mug Club meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in La Casa Cultural. Any new members who show up can decorate their own mug during discussion.

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