Queerientation brings colour to campus

Co-chairs hope to increase visibility for annual events

From left: Shannon Watson and Mark Leonard, this year's Queerientation Co-Chairs.
From left: Shannon Watson and Mark Leonard, this year's Queerientation Co-Chairs.
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Following Frosh Week, Queerientation kicked off with a splash of colour – but instead of blue, yellow and red, a rainbow welcomed the class of 2017.

Queerientation, organized by Co-Chairs Shannon Watson and Mark Leonard this year, aims to promote sexual and gender diversity and inclusivity on campus for incoming and returning students.

On Sept. 9, Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP), which hosts the activities, kicked off the week with its first general meeting, for which 65 people turned up.

The group also hosted a Lego Mania building competition alongside Positive Allies and Queers in Engineering on Wednesday, and a tie-dye and water fight on Summerhill on Saturday, in effort to introduce Queen’s students to the LGBTQ community.

The events will span over three weeks, and will include activities up until Sept. 26. A major hallmark is The Cliks concert at the Grad Club, set to take place this Friday at 9 p.m.

“The event is a lot bigger than anything Queerientation has planned in the past,” Watson, ArtSci ’14, said.

In 2012, EQuIP won the Queen’s Human Rights Award for the initiative.

Other events include “Celebration of Bisexuality Day” on Sept. 23rd, and a Sexual Health Resource Centre Sexperts Sex Ed Talk on the 24th.

A big focus for Shannon and Mark is branching out to non-LGBTQ students and increasing the group’s overall visibility, they said. The team began planning last April, and with a $1,500 budget, most of their ideas have come to fruition.

“We want to focus more on the first-year experience and try not to get too heavy, because we want that support group to be built before we get into the really serious issues,” Leonard, ArtSci ’16 said, adding that EQuIP will also host talks regarding gender identity following the events, like one on the commodification of sexual identity.

The duo have also organized participation in the Gender and Sexual Diversity Resource Fair, alongside the Queen’s Pride Project, Ontario Public Interest Research Group, the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre and other similar organizations – an event Watson equated to the Tricolour Open House, “except a lot gayer.”

The fair will take place on the Sept. 26, and will also include a screening of the film G.B.F. directed by Darren Stein.

“We want to be a resource hub so people can come to us and get more information,” Watson said. “We are trying to build a tight-knit community on campus and beyond as well.”

An important aspect of Queerientation is creating a safe space for first-years, she said, who might not otherwise be comfortable expressing their sexuality in a new environment.

“But it’s also for anybody who has interest in queer issues, or interest in joining the community, or just anybody who wants to know what it is all about,” Watson added. “It’s a very enjoyable, low-pressure experience for the first month.

“We’re not getting too heavy yet, we’re here to just welcome everybody.”

For a full list of Queerientation activities, visit the Queerientation Facebook page.

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