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Illinois Rural LGBTQ+ Resource Group Holding Queer Clothing Swap At NIU

Queer Oriented Rural Resource Network

A DeKalb organization is throwing a clothing swap for queer folks in DeKalb County, as well as just anyone re-entering the workforce post-pandemic who needs clothes.

The Queer-Oriented Rural Resource Network -- also known by its agriculturally appropriate acronym QORRN -- spent its first year in DeKalb County cataloging community and support resources for queer people.

But founder Frankie DiCiaccio says there’s not much data on where queer people live and what resources they actually need. The census still doesn’t askgender identity and sexual orientation questions.

That led them to create a DeKalb County community survey this year. The extensive survey received well over 100 responses. They’re sifting through the data and hope to release a report with their key findings this summer.

“One big one, I'd say anecdotally, is that there is a real need for welcoming events and welcoming spaces in DeKalb," said DiCiaccio.

That’s particularly true during the pandemic, with some queer people stuck in unwelcoming, even hostile, homes.

DiCiaccio says they were encouraged by the number of people in the community who want to help. The report will be given out to non-profits, schools and local government agencies.

“You can't really fade into the crowd in a small town or in a rural area,” they said. “So, one non-queer person holding space for someone, being encouraging, calling out bigotry or prejudice -- when they hear it, there's a ripple effect.”

QORNN hopes the Queer Clothing Swap they’re holding Saturday, May 22 at Northern Illinois University meets that need. The event is co-hosted by NIU’s student-run LGBTQ+ group “Prism.” DiCiaccio says anyone with clothing needs is welcome, and there will be music and beverages.

More information on the event and its list of rural queer resources can be found at QORNN.com.