C/O Esra Rakab
The QTCC provides an online space for racialized 2SLGBTQ+ students to gather and build community
McMaster University’s Queer and Trans Colour Club is a place for racialized 2SLGBTQIA+ students to connect and thrive both academically and socially at McMaster. Even while clubs remained online for the fall semester of 2021, the QTCC found avenues for students to connect. Their online workshops and their educational Instagram posts shared tips for mindfulness and how to deal with living at home during online school and the holidays.
In the fall, the QTCC held a variety of online events to encourage students to connect with one another, including a midterm destress session and their most recent workshop, A Very Queer Study Session, in which students studied together over Zoom using the Pomodoro method. The workshop also provided space to discuss mindfulness techniques and how to manage stress at home during the holidays as a 2SLGBTQIA+ student.
The President of QTCC, Emma Zhang, who helped run the workshop, shared her experience at the study session and some of the tips they gave for the holiday season.
“We leave a reminder: it’s important for us to support each other in finding ways to cope with this. [T]hen we open the floor to everyone to see what tips they could have in terms of what worked for them and then we will go with what tips we have. For example, if you can, connect to the people who could affirm your identity and community. It can be online through game nights or meeting up in person,” said Zhang.
The QTCC is continuing their events in the new year with educational information for aromantic spectrum awareness week, a coffee house they host annually at the end of February. Last year, the event was hosted online.
“Last year, we had, of course, spoken word. Also, we had people who shared their screen to show their paintings and I think some were more abstract and some were personal. Also, some people performed songs and dances that were important to them,” said Zhang.
In the month of February, the QTCC is also busy promoting educational information on their social media about Black History Month in collaboration with the Black Students’ Association.
Zhang spoke about how the QTCC hopes to provide tips on how to connect with others platonically on Valentine’s Day.
“Specifically for our Valentine's Day post, we're hoping to also provide some resources where people can connect platonically and we hope to address the topic of what it means to have a clear platonic relationship because as you know, queer relationships and timelines don't really look identical to a cishet timeline,” explained Zhang.
Through every online workshop and post, QTCC is fostering a community for racialized 2LGBTQIA+ students, allowing them to still feel connected to their peers even if most students are stuck at home.
“We leave the floor and the freedom to our attendees to choose what they want to do to build the community that they want to see and I think that that is pretty powerful. And generally having a sense of solidarity of seeing people like them on the screen with them doing similar things, that's pretty helpful. I think personally, I've benefited from that,” said Zhang.
This article has been edited as of Feb. 27, 2020
A previously published version of this article stated that Giroux phoned his daughter to ask about Casablancas. This has been corrected to state that he asked his son.
This article is part one of a two part series. Read part two here.
The latter half of the 2010 decade brought with it the rise of various right-winged movements throughout the world. Henry Giroux, a McMaster professor in the department of English and cultural studies, felt a sense of urgency; that the public needed to be educated in order to advance our democracy and combat the right side of politics. We recently had the chance to catch up with Giroux after he published his newest book, The Terror of the Unforeseen, which includes a forward by Julian Casablancas, lead singer of The Strokes.
INTRODUCTION TO CASABLANCAS:
In 2016, Giroux received a phone call from an agent asking if he knew who Julian Casablancas was, to which he responded, “No, I don’t”. He then phoned his son to ask who the mysterious rock star was.
Casablancas brought a film crew to Giroux’s Hamilton home and interviewed the professor about his work. This was the start of the duo’s friendship. Giroux then asked Casablancas if he wanted to write a forward in The Terror of the Unforeseen to open up his narrative to a much-wider audience.
After the forward was written, Casablancas interviewed Giroux in front of a live audience at a McMaster Library event at The Westdale Theatre (1014 King St. W.) on Oct. 24, 2019. The event was entitled “The Looming Threat of Fascist Politics”.
Giroux was born in Providence, Rhode Island, living in a working-class neighbourhood. He obtained a basketball scholarship from the University of Southern Maine and graduated from the university to become a high school teacher. He received a scholarship to complete his schooling at Carnegie-Mellon University, graduating with a PhD in 1977.
After becoming a professor at Boston University, Giroux began researching what education looks like at universities; what does it mean to get a university education?
In 1981, Giroux’s research inspired his second book, Theory and Resistance in Education: a Pedagogy for the Opposition. In Theory and Resistance, he defends that education has become a privatized endeavour that does not prioritizes the public’s best interests, including the interests of students. This privatization has become apparent through the promotion of maths and sciences, and the undermining of social and behavioural teachings. Giroux concludes that universities are no longer producing public intellectuals, people who think and reason critically, with the absence of humanities and social sciences.
When Giroux went up for tenure at Boston University, everyone but the president of the University wanted to give him the teaching position.
“[The president] was the east coast equivalent of Ronald Reagan, and a really ruthless guy.. he was denying tenure to everybody on the left [side of the political spectrum],” said Giroux.
Giroux moved to Miami University where he started the first cultural studies centre in the United States. He was then offered an endowed chair at Pennsylvania State University. When the opportunity came to apply to McMaster University, Giroux leapt at the offer and was hired in 2004.
THE TERROR OF THE UNFORESEEN:
Casablancas joined Giroux’s project because he saw the value in Giroux’s ideology.
“The idea for the book came out of a certain sense of incredible urgency . . . motivated by the election of Donald Trump and the rise of right-winged movements throughout the world,” said Giroux.
The author coined the term “neoliberal fascism”: a cross between racist ideology and a ruling financial elite class that disregards lower classes. This term is the basis of Giroux’s book, which describes how neoliberal fascism affects universities and media, along with how it has contributed to the creation of alt-right culture.
“I tried to take seriously the notion that politics follows culture, meaning that, you can’t really talk about politics unless you talk about the way in which people are experiencing their everyday lives and the problems that confront them,” said Giroux.
He believes that fascism never goes away, that it will always manifest itself in some context. Giroux used the U.S. as an example. The wealth and power held by the governing financial elite has created a state that does not care about the inequalities faced by most of its citizens.
Giroux links the above issues to the war on youth that much of his work has focused on, with the belief that youth are a long-term investment that are being written out of democracy.
Giroux sees elements of youth being written out of democracy on our own campus. He also recognized that neoliberal ideology could have been a contributing cause to the province’s financial cuts to universities.
“The [ideal] model for education is now patterned after a business culture and with that, it seems to me, comes with an enormous set of dangers and anxieties,” stated Giroux.
According to Giroux, universities used to operate as public good; however, this is no longer their priority. Instead, universities are constantly worried about their bottom line, due in part to neoliberalism. This is especially evident in the elimination of or lack of funding for programs and courses that bring in less money for universities. Giroux cites the example of liberal arts education, which he believes is vital for every student to obtain. He believes this field teaches students a general understanding of our interactions with the world and how to become a socially responsible citizen; however, Giroux believes that liberal arts are being neglected in favour of teaching science and math.
While he understands that universities run deficits, this need to meet the bottom line can open the door for them to become influenced to opt-in to privatization and corporate influence. Giroux believes the only type of influence major corporations should have on campus are in the forms of sponsorships to allow the university to carry out its business as students are neither clients nor products.
“We have an obligation as educators, not to prepare students for just the work, but to prepare them for the world and what it means.”
When asked about the Ford government’s stance on OSAP cuts, Giroux believes that the government has a limited notion of investment, likely stemming from neoliberalist ideals.
“You don’t invest in students, for them to return profits . . . you invest in students and do everything you can to make sure that they can distinguish between meaningful work and meaningless work; that they can have some vision of the future that’s rooted in democratic values, that has some sense of compassion for what it means to live in a world in which we’re completely interdependent.
The Terror of the Unforeseen is the 71st book by Henry Giroux.
“I write because I believe that writing matters, I believe that elevating ideas into the public realm may help change the way people view the world,” said Giroux.
Stay tuned for part two of this series featuring our interview with Julian Casablancas.
When partners and food and beverage producers Ryan Chelak and Jules Lieff went looking for a production space, they came across a building at 98 Vine Street. While the space was larger than they required for their businesses, they decided to take it. Now they are sharing the extra space with Hamilton makers with their first Vine Street Makers’ Market set to take place on March 30.
The two-storey red-brick building was once the home of Hamilton Pure Dairy, which opened in 1907 to provide healthy, safe and pure milk to the community. It has been home to other businesses over the year and now houses Vibe Kombucha and FitOrganiX.
Chelak is the founder of Vibe Kombucha, a craft brewer of raw, organic kombucha tea. Lieff founded FitOrganiX, a daily meal delivery system that uses local, organic ingredients. They will be using the second floor of the building for production.
The main floor will be open to the community as studio and event space. While Chelak and Lieff are still determining exactly how they will use the space, they know they want it to cater to creatives in Hamilton.
“In talking to a number of artists in the community, in Hamilton, there seems to be a need, particularly where we are downtown, for creative space. All of the workshop, event spaces, they're all pricing a lot of these people out of the market,” Chelak explained.
The desire for space can be seen in how the market sold out of vendor space within a day and a half. By providing space at an accessible price point, Vine Street Market is allowing emerging makers the chance to bring their product to the public.
The markets are currently slated to be monthly, but Chelak said that they may change depending on the demand. Starting in May, they will also host a bimonthly thrifted, vintage market.
However, the main floor will be more than just market space. At the back of the main floor, there will be collaborative work space for artists to work out of. This would also allow artists to have wall space in order to display their work for clients.
Vibe Kombucha and FitOrganiX will also be selling their products at 98 Vine Street. Chelak and Lieff hope to have a cafe counter where people can buy their products, along with food and beverages from other local producers.
Another important use for the space will be the workshops that makers can host. Having gotten into kombucha by giving workshops, Chelak appreciates the opportunity to share skills with others.
“You know sharing that knowledge is really what community is all about, whether it's making something to eat or drink or making… music or arts. People need outlets like that, maybe now more than ever when everything is fast-paced and we're so immersed in technology and our work… [T]hat time to create it is important,” Chelak said.
The market will provide an opportunity for Hamiltonians to interact with and buy from local makers. While there is no restriction on where the makers hail from, the market will primarily host local creatives.
Chelak believes that the local creatives are leaders in Hamilton’s resurgence. However, more than helping to grow the city, Hamilton artists are also providing a welcoming and collaborative space for emerging artists to develop.
“Hamilton seems to be, from my perspective…, a city that is collaboration over competition… And I think when you have that mindset where you're looking to promote each other and/or share information or opportunities… then people are more apt to do the same back in return and the adage that when you first give and then you'll receive, it's really what it's all about,” Chelak said.
By creating an environment where artists can work together, Vine Street Market is joining the tradition of collaboration within Hamilton’s artistic community. Having this new space for makers to make and sell their art will allow more individuals with small businesses to flourish in this rapidly changing city. In turn, Vine Street Market will grow as well.
By: Neda Pirouzmand
Abeer Siddiqui, McMaster’s librarian and adjunct lecturer for the school of interdisciplinary science, partnered with Steel City Stories to create “Science: an evening of true, personal stories about science,” an event held on March 12 featuring personal stories told by STEM professionals to community members.
Hamilton storyteller Lisa Hunt, a member of the Steel City Stories Planning Committee, met Siddiqui through the LIFESCI 4L03 course. This new course was designed and implemented just this past fall by Siddiqui and her co-instructor.
Hunt introduced students to the art of oral storytelling through a guest lecture and provided feedback to students in the class.
Speakers at the story-telling event last week included Roopali Chaudhary, the owner of a cake business called (C6H12O6)^3. Her first order came from the McMaster’s biology department. Chaudhary made them a Madagascar hissing cockroach cake for a retiring entomologist who supposedly loved the insect.
The department of biology now commonly orders cakes from her online business.
Chaudhary promotes her creations by bringing awareness to the importance of communication in science. Her passion is driven by a goal to combine art and science in an edible form.
The story she shared revealed the path that led her to where she is today.
“My story was inspired by a critical moment in my life as a post-doc that completely changed how I viewed science as a whole,” said Chaudhary. “It led me to quit my research position, but also allowed me continue doing everything I loved about science without organizational constraints that had been holding me back. Now I get to bake cakes too, and I am happy.”
Rodrigo Narro Perez shared his story of immigrating to Canada at a young age. He highlighted the first decade of his rocky journey to learn English and integrate with Canadian culture.
“My first day of school is vivid in my mind. My parents decided to enroll me in primary school just three days after arriving in the frigid cold of Canada’s November,” said Perez. “When they introduced me to my teacher Ms. Smith, I did what every good Peruvian boy would do and I tried to kiss her on the cheek. I will never forgive my parents.”
As a sessional instructor for McMaster’s school of geography and earth sciences, Perez piloted a field course to bring 10 McMaster students to his home of Peru. As the liaison between two countries, he is responsible for the translation of documents and conversations crucial to his research on the retreat of South American glaciers.
“The fact that my two homes are collaborating in the pursuit of greater knowledge is extremely meaningful to me. I have fully embraced that Peru and Canada are a part of me, not one is more and not one is less,” he said.
McMaster university librarians built on their momentum from the story-telling event and continued to celebrate contributions to STEM by by giving away about 3,000 pies in H.G. Thode Library, Hamilton Hall and Mills Memorial Library for Pi day.
On April 24, an open house will give students a first-hand look at iconic scientific texts, dating from the 12th century to present day.
By: Tanya Kett & Jillian Perkins Marsh
Some say that when they last attended a job fair employers told them to apply online, so they felt it was pointless to attend. If you have similar sentiments, I urge you to keep reading.
Employers may tell you to apply online (it does save paper!), but the real reason they are there is to get a sense of the person behind the resume that is submitted online — YOU.
Who are you? What do you have to offer? Why are you unique? Are you personable? Do you seem genuinely interested? What do you know about them? Answers to these questions can only be conveyed in an application to a certain extent. Make a real connection so that when your application does come across their desk, your name gets noticed.
How can you differentiate your application from other ones in the application pile?
Do your research. Explore the event website for the list of employers confirmed to attend and do some research on them before the event.
Tailor your elevator pitch. Make eye contact and shake their hand. Be bold, assertive, and with some confidence, introduce yourself. Tell them what you do or want to do, what you have to offer and why you are interested in them. Customize your pitch based on your research.
Ask useful questions. Based on your research, prepare some thoughtful questions to generate conversation after your introductions.
Be an active listener. Really listen to what they have to say; it is easy to start thinking ahead to what you will say next, but concentrate on being in the moment. After the conversation is over, jot down any suggestions they had for applicants before you forget.
Be ready to dig deeper. If you encounter an organization of interest that is not hiring in the area you are interested in, don’t despair. Remember that organizations recruit for many diverse roles and hiring timelines are often not predictable.
Invite to connect on LinkedIn. Visit your new contact’s profile and send your request from there, so you have an option to ‘Add a Note.’ Reference something from your conversation when you invite them to connect and thank them for their time in speaking with you at the event.
After you attend the event and employ the tactics above, you are ready to submit that online application. Don’t forget to mention the contact you spoke with at the Career Fair or Company Recruitment Event. Incorporate their suggestions and offer something you learned from them in your cover letter as part of why you are interested in applying.
Now imagine you did none of the above, just attended, had a few conversations and just applied online. Which application would you be most interested in?
Use what you’ve learned in this article at our SCENE networking night on March 21. This event is open to McMaster alumni and students in their final year. Register here: alumni.mcmaster.ca under Event Listings.
Read the full article on our Medium page.
With International Women’s Day just behind us, several Hamilton organizations are taking the time to show their appreciation for the women in our community. One such organization is Never Gonna Stop, a youth initiative that is hosting Empower Me: A Women’s Appreciation Brunch on March 16 at the Hamilton Plaza Hotel and Conference Center.
In addition to brunch, the event will feature games, raffle prizes, a variety of visual and performing artists and speakers. The event is open to all ages and genders. It was important for the organizers that this communal appreciation of women be done by not just other women.
“[I]t's really important to have men to support women in our community. Men's voices are heard a lot more than just women’s [so] we're trying to get men to align with women… [W]hen we hear [about] domestic violence, usually it's men doing violence towards women, so… that's what I mean when I say we try to align men with women to support each other,” explained NGS member Gonca Aydin.
The brunch, which is now sold out, is free of cost. Making it free allowed the event to be accessible to everyone in the community. Reducing financial barriers is important for this organization, which is catered towards helping low-income youth.
NGS was created by David Lingisi, Saifon Diallo and Joshua Kiena, all of whom come from low-income backgrounds. They wanted to create an initiative that would provide physical and mental health-related activities for youth from the ages of 13 to 29.
“[W]e've seen how there's a lot of older people… that have talent basically wasted because they didn't have an opportunity… [A]s the younger generation, we basically want to help [youth] out to make their dreams come true. I want everyone to provide a platform for them, to give them an opportunity to… go to the league, allow them to become doctors and [whatever] they want to do,” said Lingisi.
Lingisi was born with sickle cell anemia and has spent his life in and out of the hospital while still working towards his dream of being a music producer. Each of the co-founders have underwent personal challenges, which fuel their desire to help others overcome obstacles. Growing up in immigrant families, they all faced culture shock in addition to financial barriers.
The initiative hopes to provide the support for low-income youth that they feel is missing in Hamilton. They want to support the artistic, athletic and academic talent of today’s youth by providing them with opportunities and the knowledge to succeed.
Since the creation of the initiative last summer, NGS has hosted a youth panel, a holiday food drive, an All-Star weekend basketball tournament and a talent and fashion show for Black History Month among other events. They are continuously planning new events in partnership with other organizations in the city.
They took on the Women’s Appreciation Brunch because it fits within their goal of creating community. NGS is proud to call themselves inclusive to all genders, races, religions or economic statuses. Setting aside space and time to celebrate women and promote the resources that women can access within the city fits within that mandate.
Most importantly, the Women’s Appreciation Brunch delivers the message of persistence directly to Hamilton’s women. They named the event Empower Me because they want women of all ages to know that they can accomplish any goal that they set out to reach.
“[K]eep following your dreams, whatever it is, don't ever stop, don't let anything stop you. You are able to make it no matter what you're going through, it doesn't matter the situation, just keep going as long as you get one more day… I just want to [say] that everybody's a part of NGS. I'm NGS, you're NGS, anybody going through anything but still fighting is NGS,” said Lingisi.
That is why they named themselves Never Gonna Stop. More than a name, it is a movement and source of encouragement for those involved. Knowing how hard life can be, NGS is focused on motivating others to work hard in order to achieve their wildest dreams.
On March 1, creative co-working space Steel City Studio threw a grand reopening celebration to mark the completion of its expansion and renovation. The changes, which began last November, brought better workflow to the space and will allow the studio to grow as a business.
The studio is now 2,000 feet larger than it once was. When the second floor unit beside the studio became available, cofounders Nadine Ubl and Jennifer Donaldson jumped on the chance to increase their square footage. By knocking down the walls between these two units, Steel City Studio now enjoys a brighter and more open space.
Beyond expanding, the renovation involved refinishing the oak flooring on the second floor, replacing the front door with a glass door, changing the tile at the front of the studio, adding a double glass door at the entrance and bringing the wiring up to code. It was important to Ubl and Donaldson to stay within the existing layout and maintain the charm of the 120-year-old building.
The most significant updates involved making the space more environmentally friendly. The old windows facing east and south were replaced by more efficient windows. Wherever they changed the light fixtures, they also changed the light bulbs from halogen to LED to decrease their power draw.
“[P]art of what we do is keeping in mind [the] environmental component. So by sharing a lot of resources, it means that we can sort of lessen our environmental impact,” Ubl explained.
The studio has become green in more ways than one. The most impressive part of the renovation is the moss wall and ceiling on the second floor. The greenery was done by Greenteriors, one of the businesses that uses space at Steel City Studio. While designed to absorb acoustics in the new open floor plan, the moss also serves to inspire the makers and benefit their health. It is also a sign of new beginnings.
To celebrate these new beginnings, the studio hosted an event to share the refreshed space with the community. They filled the space with artwork by the Hamilton Female Artists Collective and provided snacks, a cash bar and live acoustic music by musician Murray Thiessen.
They also announced the winner of their Spring Start-up Contest. The contest, which was ran through their socials, was open to creative entrepreneurs, artists and small businesses. They then invited the nominated makers to share their vision and tour the studio. The lucky winners were awarded two months of free studio space.
“[W]e hear a lot that people want to gain access to the studio, but they're not really sure how to go about starting or, financially, they're not sure if they can make that commitment. So the point in this contest was to give someone the opportunity to get started in the space for a couple of months and help them to grow their business so that they can sustain staying in the studio,” Ubl said.
Helping small creative businesses grow is the main goal of Steel City Studio. Not only does the studio offer space on a membership basis, it also provides flourishing businesses with business knowledge and supplies. An example of this is the six-week program, Open Co-tivation, which kicks off on March 12 and is designed to help entrepreneurs keep one another accountable.
In addition to these programs, the studio hosts various workshops, such as the upcoming Screenprinting Basics on March 16. And on March 30, the business will be hosting its seasonal Open Studio, which allows members of the community to check out the studio as well as meet and buy from makers.
Expanding the space will allow the studio to further meet its mandate and grow its influence in the city. There is a definite benefit to being able to work with, support and seek advice from other makers. The studio wants to continue to cater to individuals who are just starting creative endeavours.
“I think what we hope to be is that next step for people that are transitioning into either work in a creative field or into their own business…. [T]hey had everything at their fingertips while they were at school and then when they go to leave it's like ‘okay and now I'm doing this from home, how do I do that?’ So we definitely want to solidify that a little bit,” said Ubl.
Steel City Studio occupies a unique niche in Hamilton by bridging the gap between the maker and start-up cultures. By expanding its space, the studio has more room for Hamilton’s small creative businesses to grow in.
By: William Li
On Feb. 11, Uighur activist Rukiye Turdush’s presentation at McMaster University about China’s mass internment of Muslims was disrupted by student protestors.
Controversially, these students had rallied not only to protest the event, but to coordinate with the Chinese Embassy.
The Washington Post reports that this coordination went beyond ordinary consular services: in addition to sending photos, the students say they were requested to search the talk for any university officials or Chinese nationals.
This is alarming, as it represents an attempt to harass and intimidate Turdush into silence. It is also disturbing because the Chinese government has no business collecting information about political events on campus.
It is important to remember that the Chinese Communist Party currently runs an authoritarian government with absolute control of China, including its foreign embassies. The regime also has a long history of violently crushing dissent.
Most notably, at the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, thousands of students were massacred with tanks and machine guns. Lawyers, activists and even Nobel laureates are regularly imprisoned for criticizing the Communist Party. Today, China also uses internet censorship and a social credit system to neuter any challenge to Party rule.
The incident with Turdush shows that similar political repression is not something distant and foreign; it is something that happened on campus and continues to happen.
One of the most overlooked victims here are the Chinese international students. This is especially true if photos are being sent to the Chinese Embassy. This essentially creates a system of fear in which students surveil each other, reporting to officials any deviance from the Communist Party line.
For international students seeking a liberal education in Canada, where our academic freedom would let them develop skills in independent-thinking that may be frowned upon in China, these hopes are dashed.
Instead, they are kept on a tight leash. Any deviance from Party-approved behaviour risks a report to the embassy, and resulting repercussions back home such as endangering family members or losing job and business opportunities.
Despite being on Canadian soil, these students will never get to fully experience basic freedoms that Canadian citizens take for granted. If Chinese students cannot speak freely, or even attend a political event, without risking state punishment, then this prevents any real discussion about Turdush’s presentation or any issues affecting them.
Even worse, this kind of political repression is being advanced by McMaster Students Union-ratified clubs.
In a statement written in Chinese, the McMaster Chinese Students and Scholar Association, McMaster Chinese News Network and McMaster Chinese Professional Society condemned Turdush and confirmed they contacted the Chinese Consulate in Toronto.
The McMaster English Language Development Student Association, an affiliate of the faculty of humanities, and the McMaster Chinese Graduate Students Club also signed the statement.
This statement was not directed at Turdush, nor any non-Chinese students. Rather, for the international students who can read Chinese, the thinly-veiled threat was crystal clear: promote the Communist Party line on political issues, or you will be reported to the Chinese consulate.
This is deplorable. MSU-ratified clubs and affiliates of the university should not be surveilling McMaster students and reporting their activities to foreign governments.
They should not propagate an environment where fear of surveillance prevents students from speaking out. They should not masquerade as safe spaces for international students if they have a hidden agenda to allow authoritarian regimes a backdoor to covertly monitor their citizens abroad.
There is also evidence that this problem is not unique to McMaster. The Chinese government has actively tried to influence academic institutions in several liberal democracies, particularly with its Confucius Institutes.
The MSU needs to investigate if these clubs have violated the Clubs Operating Policy by reporting political activity on campus to the Chinese government, through negatively affecting students’ ability to conduct their lawful affairs (18.104.22.168), interfering with other clubs’ activities (22.214.171.124) or failing to fully disclose connections to bodies outside of the MSU (4.2).
Declining to take action would betray anybody who feels surveilled, muffled or repressed by the Chinese government, and tarnish the MSU’s reputation as a safe and inclusive union that puts students’ interests first.
By: Andrew Mrozowski
“In the beginning God created Adam and Eve (allegedly), but she soon realized how boring their parties were and created Adam and Steve to be their neighbours and show them how it’s done,” read the official Adam and Steve manifesto.
Since 2016, Adam George and Steve Hilliard have been throwing the queerest parties that Hamilton has seen for decades under their event planning name Adam and Steve. These two community event organizers have a single mission, to create community and carve out LGBTQ friendly events within the Hammer.
“[Our events] are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s like your gayest wildest wet dream,” said George.
George moved to Hamilton in the late 2000s to attend McMaster’s science program. Shortly after meeting Hilliard on campus, the two students clicked. Hilliard went on to graduate from the nursing program and became a full-time nurse while George became a full-time realtor.
The “semi-engaged” duo — they have an ongoing competition over proposals — loved making a life together in Hamilton, but they felt something was missing in their community.
Being inspired by the fact that there weren’t any queer spaces currently in Hamilton, George and Hilliard had an idea. What if they planned and hosted parties in Hamilton that they would want to attend?
“We were tired of having to go to Toronto to have fun,” explained George.
“We were both inspired by being queer, inspired by fun, beauty and I have an intense love of drag. I really wanted to give a stage to queer artists,” added Hilliard.
Historically, Hamilton has had a rough history with queer spaces amounting to raids and police brutality.
“At any given moment, there was at least four or five [gay bars and clubs]. Hamilton was almost too gay and this history is tragic. If you look up the lists of the top ten worst police raids, one of them was in Hamilton at a bathhouse downtown,” said Hilliard.
“But now, we’re moving towards a queer scene about being whoever the fuck you wanna be,” added George.
Attracting the likes of popular Toronto queens, such as Priyanka, and RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8 contestant, Thorgy Thor, the dynamic duo is always on the lookout for who can throw the greatest party.
“We wanted to throw parties that we wanted to go to. Right before we started doing events, we always thought ‘Why hasn’t a RuPaul queen come to Hamilton?’ Then once we started throwing events, it was one of those things where you didn’t think was possible and then one day, I just googled … what would it take to get a RuPaul queen to come,” said Hilliard.
“We did a survey on our Instagram to see if there was interest… in four days the first show sold out and then we added a second date, and that one sold out,” added George.
Community is a large reason why George and Hilliard throw their parties. The duo’s goal is not only create community and a space that fosters inclusivity through their events, but they also wanted to become part of the community.
“It’s about creating a family in this city,” said Hilliard. “Queerness was never something that was handed to us.”
George and Hilliard are consistently looking towards the future and are hoping to open up their own space. The goal is to have a party every night, so there will always be a safe space for the community to celebrate and have fun.
Always busy planning parties, the duo has big plans for this coming romantic weekend. Adam and Steve will be hosting Heart On: Queer Galentine’s Day Party featuring House of Filth on Feb. 16 at Absinthe Hamilton on 38 King William Street.
“Queer and gay bars left [Hamilton], but the gay and queer people didn’t. We need to give those people and ourselves a safe space where they can meet new friends, be safe, and won’t ever need to leave the city at all,” explained Hilliard.
The future for Hamilton’s LGBTQ+ looks as bright as the pride flag thanks to event organizers like George and Hilliard. Adam and Steve events are where you can put glitter on your face, wear your cutest shirts and dance the night away in a safe and inclusive space for all.
By: Coby Zucker
Saturday’s Pride volleyball games went off without a hitch, in part due to the organizational skills of Shawn Small, a manager in the department of Athletics and Recreation. The event was designed to merge athletics with a celebration of the LGBTQA2S+ groups on campus and in the Hamilton area.
“It’s just a celebration of the community,” said Small. “And trying to bridge our department with the community on campus and outside in the Hamilton community. Again, it's a celebration game and just opening up the doors, making sure that people know what we stand for, who we are and making an inclusive environment for everyone.”
Small is something of an industry veteran, having had the opportunity to work in a similar role within the professional sports scene. During his time with the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, he was able to help organize a similar event for the Toronto Raptors. Looking at what the pro teams were doing, as well as other universities, it was only a matter of time before the Pride event wound its way into Marauders athletics.
“The Toronto Blue Jays do a game,” said Small. “And Ryerson University, York University. So it's something that's pretty prevalent in the sports community. Pretty common. So we felt that it's time that we make sure that we're recognizing and celebrating our community as well.”
@mcmasterwvb 🏐 warming up for their PRIDE DAY 🏳️🌈 game in their @truehamiltonian shirts. Get here to get yours and show your support! 💕
.#GoMacGo #YouCanPlay #HamiltonIsHome pic.twitter.com/zJIV3G7McF
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) February 9, 2019
Small explained that beyond just a celebration of the LGBTQA2S+ community, the event also helps promote equity and inclusion within university athletics.
“Generally, there's a stigma around sports and the LGBT community,” said Small. “So we're trying to break down those barriers and make sure people know that it's an inclusive and equitable environment at the David Braley Athletic Centre and at the Athletics and Recreation Department.”
Though high-level athletics and the LGBTQA2S+ community have frequently been at odds, Small feels as though stigma within the Marauders community is mostly imposed from the outside and not by teammates.
“I mean, we've had some openly gay athletes and student-athletes on our teams,” Small said. “And there is this stigma of people outside the sports world. But when you're in it, all the people on the teams that know these openly-gay athletes are already open arms, and there's no stigma within the environment. But when you're outside the environment, we feel like there is always a perceived stigma, but perception is not always reality.”
The game itself was an overwhelming success for the Marauders. Both the women and men’s volleyball teams easily handled the Nipissing University Lakers in three-set sweeps. While the women’s team has remained competitive in the Ontario University Athletics West division, the men’s team is in prime position to go for OUA gold once again.
Even still, the team’s dominance was not a large factor in the scheduling of the Pride event and was more of a happy coincidence.
“We don't have many available dates with other things going on,” said Small. “So it landed on this date and we're actually very excited again because the men's volleyball team has been doing so well and it's a strong draw — we always have a solid crowd. So it helps enhance what's already a good event.”
This is not the first time Marauders sports have been fused with celebratory or awareness-spreading campaigns. Bell Let’s Talk Day, which promotes conversation around mental health, was marked by a sizable campaign led by student-athletes and punctuated by McMaster basketball games in support of the event. Chances are, the two events won’t be where the themed games end.
“We're really trying to look at our calendar and schedule appropriately,” said Small. “Making sure that we have the opportunity to break down walls and invite different groups from all cultural, sexual orientation, gender or whatever it would be. So we try our best to make sure we spread the net wide and bring everyone together and to our building.”
After another successful social event in the Marauders community brought fans and athletes together through sports, the volleyball teams will build on this energy to boost them through the rest of the season.