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By: Gabi Herman
As November sets in and the weather gets dreary and grey, the Queer Students Community Centre hopes to bring a rainbow of colour with this year’s MacPride festivities.
The QSCC office is tucked away in a back corner of MUSC to maintain student privacy, but MacPride is the QSCC’s week to be unabashedly public. Fourth-year Social Work student and QSCC coordinator Emily Smith says that the publicity of the annual event “brings a degree of community for people who haven’t found it yet.” MacPride also serves as a way for the university community at large to show support.
The festivities began on Monday with a MarioKart tournament and a coffee social, and each day has been busier than the one before. With 16 events, this is the biggest year in recent memory. Smith hopes that there is a turnout to match. “Last year we had about 250 people come, and this year we are hoping for more,” she added.
Interested students have had an array of events to choose from. Wednesday featured classic Pride events: the Pride march and rally, followed by the keynote address. Body positivity workshops, Trans Inclusion 101, a board game night and a drag show are some of the options on offer for the rest of the week. The “Let’s Talk Queer” event series is notable for the collaboration it has brought about. The QSCC, EngiQueers, and SHEC have created three events about LGBTQ+ issues related to sex, relationships, and the workplace.
In addition to creating connections between campus groups, organizers hope MacPride builds bridges between the queer community and students who are not normally involved in LGBTQ+ related activities. Smith said, “People shouldn’t see the word ‘queer’ and think ‘oh, this isn’t for me.’” Unless otherwise specified, events are open to allies and intended for anybody who is interested.
Real goals, concerns, and initiatives are interwoven with the festivities. The QSCC is involved with the “MSU Wants You” campaign, and hopes to improve representation of queer people in student government. The QSCC also provides a peer support service to help address mental health issues in the LGBTQ+ community.
Trans rights are also a priority for the QSCC. The MSU and the Presidential Advisory Committee for Building an Inclusive Community both have committees that are working to change single-stalled gendered washrooms to gender-neutral. The QSCC also provides resources to help students address concerns with university professors and officials misusing pronouns, using the wrong names and other manifestations of transphobia on a case-by-case basis. However, according to Smith, there have been barriers to addressing transphobia on a broad level. “Making that big systemic change is really difficult, because what we really want to push for is training … the university keeps telling us there’s not enough money,” she explained. However, due to recent demand, the QSCC is working on investing in trans inclusion training for its members and volunteers.
The atmosphere in one of MacPride’s first events, the Queer Coffee and Social, was a relaxed contrast to the busy rush of students in the Student Centre. Many of the students in the room were first time event attendees, many with a vision of what the QSCC could do for them. Students expressed desire for more newcomers’ events, excitement for the Pride march, and a hope to meet peers who understand their experiences. Dina Kovacevic, a fourth-year Communications and Health Studies student and a QSCC exec, was glad to feel “a community vibe on campus” for the queer community.
MacPride runs until the end of the week. The schedule can be found on the MSU QSCC webpage or on Facebook.