Featurette: The dark history of homophobia at Queen’s

 Examining the progress of LGBTQ+ resources at Queen’s 

Image by: Josh Malm
The 2017 Kingston Pride Parade

While Queen’s still has a long way to go to being fully inclusive to members of the LGBTQ+ community on campus, it has certainly taken strides from its past. 

In September of 1997, an article was published in The Journal discussing the dark history of homophobia at Queen’s. The article drew a distressing picture of Kingston in the 1960s for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Chris Veldhoven, a gay activist and educator, spoke about how people of a different sexual preference didn’t dare to admit their true feelings for fear of being attacked, outcast or even killed. “Leading a gay, lesbian or bisexual lifestyle in Kingston meant meeting in the shadows and alleyways away from the public eye.”

The article was a spotlight for the second annual “Queerientation”, which was organized by the student-run Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Issues Committee. The event celebrated the progress Queen’s and the Kingston community had made with respect to gay, lesbian and bisexual students in Kingston, while also reflecting on the dark history of violence towards the LGB community in Kingston.                                                                                                                                      

In an effort to make Queen’s a more accepting place for Queer culture, various programs were coordinated in and around campus. This included a high school educational program that was run by gay, lesbian and bisexual students in the 1970s. However, a hateful outburst from an angry mother lead to the program being banned in 1977.

Students also distributed a handout entitled ‘Your Queer Community’, designed to help gay, lesbian, and bisexual students find their way around the Kingston Queer community. They also provided resources and support from other Queer students.

The article, written in 1997, praised Kingston and Queen’s for the progress that has been made for lesbian, gay and bisexual students despite “the occasional bashing.” While LGBTQ+ students still face discrimination at Queen’s, there has been significant progress since 1997.

Today, the AMS and the Queen’s website both have easily accessible online resources for LGBTQ+ students. Clubs like the Queen’s Pride Project celebrate and encourage LGBTQ+ history at Queen’s and in the Kingston community, and coordinate a wide variety of events including workshops and speaker events.

There’s also the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP) under the Social Issues Commission of the AMS. According to their Facebook page, they provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ students on campus while also striving to “create a fun, welcoming, and educational community for queer and queer-positive individuals while advocating for human rights and raising awareness about queer-related issues.”

While there’s still a lot of progress to be made for LGBTQ+ students on campus, many useful resources for LGBTQ+ students have been institutionalized, showing how far we’ve come since the days of the student run ‘Queerientation’.



All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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