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Trivia group offers safe space for LGBTQ+ community

From left clockwise, Cornell University students Andrew Carpenter, Astoria Hall, Maureen Balcerzak, Rory Confino-Pinzon and Evan Greenberg work as a team to answer a trivia question. Elizabeth Kharabadze/Ithaca Week

Many people make stops at Collegetown Bagels or Ithaca Bakery for food, drinks or to sit down with old friends. For others, an evening trip to either of these locations provides a chance to brush up on some trivia.

Table for One Trivia host Gina Varrichio sets up before the game begins. Varrichio began hosting Table for One Trivia game biweekly at Collegetown Bagels and Ithaca Bakery after the success of her online trivia games. Elizabeth Kharabadze/Ithaca Week

Humble Beginnings

Table for One Trivia is a live trivia event that takes place 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays at Collegetown Bagels and on Thursdays at Ithaca Bakery. Players can participate individually or as a group of up to six to answer a series of questions in three categories — covering a variety of topics from current events to pop culture.

Gina Varrichio hosts the Table for One Trivia games. She initially started hosting trivia with her two friends, Timothy Weber and Clayton Covington, virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to continue participating in weekly trivia games while remaining socially distant. As each host invited more friends to join, the game grew larger — and in 2021, Table for One Trivia took off in person.

During“ the pandemic, it [gave people a thing] to focus on that they could enjoy each week,” Varrichio said. I also think so many people just [needed] something else to focus on other than their academic schedule or, you know, sick family members or their whatever.”

Collegetown Bagels at College Avenue serves as one of two locations for Table for One Trivia nights. Elizabeth Kharabadze/Ithaca Week

The topics for each set of questions are inspired by both participant suggestions and Varrichios interests. The second-place winners in a game get the opportunity to suggest a topic for a future round, which Varrichio said she uses to guide her thinking.

One of my favorite games was actually from back when the three of us were writing trivia together,” Varrichio said. Clayton … used the phrase crying in the club.And I was like, That’s it, that’s our target for next week.So we ran an entire game called Crying in the Club,[which] was a music round of club music. … It was just one of those aha moments that worked perfectly.”

Participants at Table for One Trivia work together in groups of up to six players to answer trivia questions. Elizabeth Kharabadze/Ithaca Week

Creating space

More than serving as a break in the middle of a long week, Table for One Trivia aims to be welcoming and inclusive for Ithacas LGBTQ+ population. Varrichio, who identifies as a queer woman, said that even though many games are not specifically catered toward LGBTQ+ topics, she still finds a handful of LGBTQ+ couples and teams who regularly turn up for game night.

The thing that we have in common to the degree that we have things in common is that our relationships don’t necessarily look like all the relationships in contemporary media,” Varrichio said. “Outside of that, we’re actually a whole spectrum of humans. … And so similarly, I would like to see more diversity and queered spaces.”

A trivia question is displayed on a laptop. Elizabeth Kharabadze/Ithaca Week

Cornell University senior Lindsey Manos began attending Table for One Trivia in Spring 2022 after they were invited by one of their coworkers to join her trivia team. While Manos does not attend as frequently as they once did, they still find the time to attend once in a while.

I’m not good at it,” Manos said. I never know anything. Anytime I’ve won, it’s been my team’s score, it’s not mine. But I love the host, Gina. She’s so much fun; she makes it interesting. … And it’s just nice to have an event to break up the week.”

Ithaca local Nomi Falk, who frequently attended games while in high school, said the game’s charm lies in the casual atmosphere that unites generations together through a common love of trivia.

“I think that different generations of queer people have had very different experiences and struggles and so they sometimes feel kind of isolated from each other,” Falk said. “But I think that there is so much connection to be had.”

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