Word Wizard: Cardin creates LGBTQ crossword puzzles, raises money for charities

Alexandra So

Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and science teacher Nate Cardin created Queer Qrosswords, an organization that raises money for LGBTQ charities and encourages inclusivity of the LGBTQ community in crossword puzzles.
Cardin raised $16,000 for charities since Queer Qrosswords launched last month. Donors give money directly to charities then send a confirmation email to Cardin to receive a packet of free crossword puzzles that are LGBTQ inclusive.
“We’re at $16,000 now, and I didn’t think we would even get to $5,000, so it has been above my expectations.” Cardin said.
Cardin started Queer Qrosswords after realizing the lack of inclusivity in mainstream puzzles.
“I do The New York Times crossword and a couple other crosswords every day, and I was starting to get frustrated when I would do the crosswords and one of the clues would say ‘a man’s spouse’, and the answer would be ‘wife,’” Cardin said. “The more that I was getting into crosswords, I realized how hetero-normative they were, and how they weren’t the most inclusive thing, which is hard because it is a favorite hobby of mine. If the hobbies that you like to do to relax actively don’t include you, it is really demoralizing.”
In response, Cardin went on Twitter to ask if any other LGBTQ community members wanted to work on making crosswords. Over 20 people responded, and each of them made a crossword that had an LGBTQ theme. Cardin spent a couple of months putting them together and editing them and then put them all into a packet.
“For the people who have done these crosswords, I’ve heard a lot of feedback that they feel seen, and they feel like they are more a part of the community,” Cardin said. “I know a number of people who have worked on the crossword or have been involved with the project. It has given them the confidence to make their own crosswords that they didn’t think they could make before or that they were part of the group that could do something like that.”
Though he began creating crosswords just a couple years ago, Cardin says he has been solving crossword puzzles his entire life.
“I’ve always liked words and always liked games, and I’ve always been more of a solitary type of person,” Cardin said. “You want to see if you can solve [crosswords] yourself, but sometimes it is more fun to do it with other people. What they know and what you know can compliment each other.”
Cardin’s first puzzle was for mathematics teacher and fellow crossword puzzle enthusiast Mike Grier. Cardin began making crosswords for The Chronicle this school year.
“Just like how Queer Qrosswords was trying to get more LGBTQ people to feel like they belonged with crosswords, my goal with the [Chronicle crosswords] was to get another generation of people to realize that they can do these things too,” Cardin said. “Sometimes we think that crosswords are like these big, scary, only quote-on-quote ‘smart’ people can do that, but everyone can tackle, try them and work on them together. I wanted to make them for our community so that they can discover them or go and make their own.”