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Camaraderie on campus

Algonquin, high school students invited to Carleton

The queer student’s group at Carleton University invites all university and high school students to attend its campus pride week, Jan 21-27.

Carleton’s GLBTQ Centre, funded through student fees and officially endorsed by both the student union and the university administration, is well aware that queer students at Algonquin College don’t have access to a well-funded queer club and meeting space on campus.

“I’d love it if tons of Algonquin and Ottawa U students showed up,” says Joanna Paddock, the chief architect of Carleton’s campus pride week.

Nick Downer, the coordinator of GLBT Algonquin, says that Algonquin College is unlikely to hold pride events this year because there is no staff, funding, or dedicated space for queer issues at that campus. She says that while the college’s administration isn’t “openly hostile” towards her group, they “don’t acknowledge that, as a minority group, we are there and need support.

“I am very glad to hear their events will be open to Algonquin students. Because our group is smaller, and we don’t have the support of the school, I am unsure as to how any campus pride events are going to go on with just our school alone,” says Downer.

As well, Carleton events will be open to high school students. Since the Ontario government dropped Grade 13 from its curriculum, university organizers have had to accommodate underage students. So the invitation to teens doesn’t involve any additional compromises, says Centre staffer Michael Wiseman.

Carleton University’s pride centre celebrated its 10th year as a student service in 2006. The university boasted one of Canada’s first openly gay student union presidents and now it’s common for the queer centre coordinators to hold elected positions at the student union.

All students are invited to attend the drag show, the week’s biggest event scheduled for Jan 27. In past years, the drag show was during the week, but this year it’s garnered the closing-party slot. Student competitors will face a panel of Ottawa-area queens in the hopes of being crowned queen of campus pride. They will perform and then be interviewed.

“They have to think on their feet. They can’t just be beautiful,” says Paddock.

Those who want to drink as well as those who are underage will have a space at the show, says Wiseman.

After running a successful make-up workshop for trans awareness week, the centre decided to resurrect the event for pride week Jan 22. The first time around, the event attracted not just trans-identified persons, but drag queens looking to hide their stubble, gay boys looking for tips for bar nights, and curious lesbians.

“They’re excellent artists. They’re highly trained and they’re very queer friendly,” says Paddock.

This year’s campus pride week will open with a coffee house, Jan 21, where queer students are invited to bring their talents to share in a relaxed environment. Singers, other musicians, and dancers can sign up for the open mic portion of the evening, while queer artists will display their work on the walls.

Other events include oral sex workshops presented by Venus Envy (cunnilingus on Jan 23 and fellatio on Jan 24), a “Que(e)rying Religion” panel discussion, and a speed dating-style friendship event (Jan 26).