Calgary is home to a second queer youth group after several young people in the city made requests for more queer programming.
The new group, Mosaic, is run by Miscellaneous Youth Network — an organization that creates safe spaces for queer youth in Calgary.
Previously, Calgary Outlink’s Inside Out, held on Monday nights, was the only queer group for the city’s young people.
“When Miscellaneous Youth started, we didn’t look at opening a youth group because there was already one in existence, and we didn’t want to compete,” says James Demers, co-chair of Miscellaneous Youth Network.
But recently, youth started asking for more organized queer activities on weeknights.
Landon Gilmour, 15, was one of them.
He started going to Inside Out last year and enjoyed it so much he spent the rest of his week anticipating Monday night. Now he attends Mosaic youth group too.
“It’s nice to be more involved and have more opportunity to see your friends and be part of the community,” says Gilmour. “I also feel that just because we are a growing city and our gay community is getting larger, it doesn’t make sense to have just one youth group.”
Gilmour came out of the closet in Grade 7 and hasn’t had any problems at school. His family has also been accepting.
Still, he says, both youth groups are the highlight of his week.
“Honestly, I think I would be much less happy in my life,” says Gilmour. “Granted, I love all my friends in my school… but it’s nice to have people who — even if they aren’t going through the same thing — are more like you.”
Since Mosaic’s first meeting in March, the group has gone rollerskating, taken a ghost tour in the Inglewood neighbourhood and learned how to make T-shirts with stencilling. Participants also got a lesson in sex education.
About 25 to 30 young people, ranging in age from 14 to 22, attend Mosaic each week.
“It’s just going so well,” says Demers. “We’re really excited that it’s being received well and that we can provide this space.”
Demers says the two youth groups — Mosaic and Inside Out — try not to step on each other’s toes.
The groups meet on different nights of the week, and they plan to partner when possible. This year, the two groups will make a float together for the Pride parade.
“We haven’t had any negative feedback,” Demers says. “The youth are happy and, really, that’s our priority.”
Mosaic youth group is held on Wednesdays at the Old Y Building (223 – 12th Ave SW) from 7 to 10pm.