Back for its fifth year, Queen’s Pride Week 2011 is taking a slightly different approach. While in past years the Week dealt with all sorts of queer issues, this year’s celebration is geared towards the slightly more taboo.
The week, which is organized by Queen’s Pride Project, has taken on a theme for the first time. The speakers, socials and interactive events of the week all centre around the idea of ‘uncensored.’
Althea Green, director of Queen’s Pride Project, said this year the theme has encouraged and allowed all speakers to push boundaries.
“There’s been a lot of critiques of the queer community and it being exclusive,” Green, Nurs ’11, said. “This year we wanted to make sure to give minority individuals within the queer community a space to express that queer identity. ”
Green said that queer movements such as Pride Week have often ignored the intersectionalities of things like race and accessibility, but that the diverse range of speakers Pride Week has attracted this year foster a better sense of inclusivity.
“A lot of uncensored things that have never been talked about [have been] brought to campus in a big way,” she said.
On March 16, activist Chelsea Lichtman spoke about fat activism, and a workshop held yesterday on the Prisoner Correspondence Project, an initiative that aims to link LGBT individuals to those within the prison system. Green said that these are just some examples of how this year’s Pride Week is addressing often-ignored issues.
Queen’s Pride Week is targeted towards queer individuals and allies. Green said that to her, ‘queer’ means everything that falls outside a heteronormative approach.
“That includes orientation, bisexuality, even curiosity,” she said.
Pride Week this year started off with the opening ceremonies where Principal Woolf made a speech. The Positive Space Award was given to Kym Nacita, ArtSci ’09 and MA ’11. The award, given by the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), aims to recognize the significant work of an individual within the queer community at Queen’s.
Nacita was honoured for giving a voice to people who identify as indigenous and queer on campus. Nacita co-founded the CFRC program Bash Back, a queer issues radio program, as well as Queer Indigenous and People of Colour, a group for racialized queer students who may feel marginalized in mainstream gay organizations and groups.
“It feels good. It’s been kind of a long year, a battle. The communities here in Kingston and at Queen’s are having these hard conversations about things that aren’t talked about, like homophobia,” Nacita said, adding that she plans to spend the prize money of $500 on her family.
“My family’s never gone on vacation so we’re gonna go on a little bit of a vacation. It’s something that’s been on my mind and I finally have the money to be able to do it,” she said.
In his address at the opening ceremony, Woolf said Pride Week helps contribute to knowledge and understanding of queer issues at Queen’s, which strengthens our ability to function as a community.
“We like to think that we live and work and play in a relatively uncensored environment. Unfortunately, that is not always the case,” Woolf said in his address.
“Sometimes people may feel uncomfortable and hesitant to speak up. We all have roles to play in bringing about this change. We have come a long way, but we have a ways to go.”
— With files from Katherine Fernandez-Blance
For a list of remaining events on March 18 and 19, see queensupride.ca
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