Honors College Queer Talks: "Uniquely Queer, Uniquely You" theme sets new precedent at EMU

A. Sacha gives a Queer Talk presentation to a group of participants.
A. Sacha leads a Queer Talk educational session.

YPSILANTI — Shortly after joining EMU as assistant director of the Honors College in May of 2023, Nick Malendowski was looking through files and discovered an old program from an event called Queer Talks. Intrigued, he made it his mission to resurrect the event. The purpose of the one-day conference is to provide a platform for queer advocacy and representation, build community, encourage learning about hot topic issues, and celebrate queer art. 

Nick Malendowski, left, and Emma Mentley Wuetrich, right, worked together to bring Queer Talks events back to campus.

“Queer Talks was originally founded by Honors Alumni Lorant Peeler in 2017 and became an annual event until the pandemic began in 2020," he said. "I wanted to bring back Queer Talks this year and make it the largest one yet. My main priority was to provide a platform for queer students, faculty, and staff to be their authentic selves."

Malendowski applied for a grant from Women in Philanthropy EMU in hopes of receiving funding for the program. After being awarded the grant, he contacted Emma Mentley Wuetrich, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center, to partner across campus. 

“I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to co-present Queer Talks, as it was an idea birthed from previous leadership that we were eager to revitalize,” Wuetrich said. “Queer Talks enriches our communities because it provides free access to our students for intentional dialogues, wellness tools, and the opportunity to present at a conference on a professional level.”

Queer Talks was held on March 6 and featured a keynote address from EMU alumni Tristan “TK” Morton (‘16), a black trans queer artist, scholar, and associate director at the Spectrum Center. The event also included six educational sessions and ended with a drag showcase. 

Educational sessions ranged from being queer in a sorority space to representation in stand-up comedy to the value of black queer newsletters during the 1980s. A. Sacha, a graduate assistant in the Office of Admissions, led one of the educational sessions. 

“It was amazing to share my story about coming out as queer as an adult and seeing people resonate and be impacted by it. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I love how inclusive EMU is. Queer Talks allows students to learn, share, and grow in their experiences,” states Sacha. 

Logan Wilkowski, performer and host of the drag showcase, who performs under the stage name Torn Abomination, described how the experience impacted him as a student. 

“It was an amazing experience to host the drag show at Queer Talks. I am so grateful to the LGBT resource center and the Honors College for giving me the opportunity. I haven’t been performing for very long. My first drag performance was at the National Coming Out Day drag show at the Commons last October, so getting to host an event like this was surreal.”

The mission to bring back the legacy of Queer Talks was a success, with over 100 students, staff, and faculty in attendance. 


About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

April 10, 2024

Written by:
Brooke Whittaker

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher