URBANA — Clothing has the power to determine the ways people view others and the way they view themselves. Many people use clothes as a form of self-expression and as a way to show how they want to be perceived by others.
For the LGBTQ+ community, access to gender-affirming is crucial says Uniting Pride of Champaign programming director Darya Shahgheibi. That’s one of the reasons why they’re coordinating a free queer clothing swap in Urbana this weekend.
“By gender-affirming clothes, we mean folks who are transitioning, who are discovering their gender identity and things like that,” Shahgheibi said. “As they go through that process, it’s nice to have your external gender identity match your internal sense of gender.”
At the clothing swap, attendees can sift through a variety of different clothes and grab pieces that speak to them the most. Shahgheibi also said that binders, compression undergarments people may wear to flatten breasts, will be available at the clothing swap, as well as resources about Uniting Pride and the programs it offers.
“We want to be able to provide people who are transitioning or just really anybody that they can feel comfortable and that they can experience gender euphoria and that they don’t feel like it’s not like the clothes are wearing them and they’re not wearing the clothes,” Shahgheibi said.
The queer clothing swap is one of many that Uniting Pride is hosting to observe Pride Month. Past events have included a drag picnic and pride happy hour. Upcoming events include a children’s play group and an LGBTQ+ adults meet-up.
Shahgheibi said they’re thrilled to be doing in-person events again after a year of Zoom meetings and scarce, socially distant events at half capacity. They also said that the ability to do in-person events also means that there’s a more inclusive space for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Just having these spaces is really near and dear to my heart just because people get so happy,” Shahgheibi said. “It’s nice to see the inclusion and the vibrancy and the pride in our in-person events.”
The queer clothing swap starts Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Independent Media Center (IMC) in Urbana and ends Sunday at 5 p.m. Shahgheibi said that donations aren’t required but are always welcome.
For more information about the clothing swap, visit unitingpride.org or the event Facebook page.