The Rainbow Center embraced all types of love on Feb. 15 at this year’s Valentine’s Day social. The center provided snacks, crafts and games to celebrate queer love in a safe, inviting environment.
The center welcomed students with pink streamers, delicious cookies and supplies to make colorful, forever–living felt flowers of all shapes and sizes. The full-house of attendees were welcomed by cozy, comfortable couches.
Mainstream Valentine’s day events are generally focused around heterosexual, romantic love. The Rainbow Center recognizes and celebrates the diversity in identity and sexuality of the UConn community.
“Everybody is welcome no matter your sexuality or gender identity… while other Valentine’s Day events are pushed toward straight couples and romantic ideas,” Rhys, a sixth semester attendee, said.
The Rainbow Center recognizes the pressure placed on students this time of year. They wanted to have an event that encouraged students to take a break from schoolwork and participate in acts of self-love that they might not have otherwise done, including crafting, relaxing and meeting new people.
“It’s a nice way to get to know other people and have a safe space… and it has a comforting vibe,” an anonymous attendee said.
College students are often daunted with the pressure of exploring romantic relationships and finding “the one.” In the midst of cuffing season and Valentine’s Day, the pressure to be in a romantic relationship is especially heightened. The Rainbow Center recognizes that not everyone wants to be in a romantic relationship, and that finding yourself can be a bigger priority.
“Especially with college students… there’s a big pressure to be in a relationship this time of year… It’s important to have a space that gives people a chance to be themselves,” undergraduate student staff member Tatyanna Molina said.
With the mainstream spotlight on straight, romantic love, other types of love can get swept under the rug. The Rainbow Center brings these to the forefront of the holiday and encourages conversation and celebration of all types of queer love.
“Any celebration of queer love is really impactful whether it’s platonic, romantic… honestly even self-love…” Molina said.
The Rainbow Center celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community all year long, not just on Valentine’s Day. There are couches and tables available for students to meet friends, do work, eat lunch and relax.
“It’s really chill; it’s not intimidating at all… and the staff is really friendly,” said sixth semester student Kaley Luk.
Attendees had nothing but positive words to say about the Rainbow Center. They encouraged anyone interested in stopping by to do so. If you’re looking for a more formal event to meet people, be sure to check out their calendar for more information on upcoming events.
“It’s nice to have a space away from heteronormativity,” noted sixth semester attendee Kaiden.
“I’ve had nothing but a positive experience… there’s an event for everyone,” Molina said.
Free safe sex supplies and resources are always available outside the center’s office in SU 403. They regularly provide free and rapid 20 minute HIV and Hepatitis C testing, with their next available tests on Monday, Feb. 28 from 4-7 p.m. The full calendar of available testing can be found on their website. There are only 10 spots available per day on a first-come first-serve basis, so if you are interested, be sure to stop by early.
No matter your identity or sexuality, the Rainbow Center celebrates you and wishes you a happy Valentine’s Day!