Working behind the scenes as the office coordinator for UVic Pride, the campus collective at the University of Victoria, Cal Mitchell is happy to be out of the spotlight.
Before that, Mitchell, who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun they, sat as the Pride representative on the board of UVic’s student society for a tumultuous year and a half.
“You’re almost expected to be the voice of all queer people on campus, so if there’s a queer person who disagrees with what I’m saying at a board meeting, there can be conflict,” the 21-year-old says.
UVic Pride has taken pro-choice positions and also stood against homophobic pamphlets distributed by a religious group on campus. According to Mitchell, some of those stances drew unwanted attention from rightwing media outlets and the white supremacist hate group Stormfront.
Mitchell now provides administrative and moral support and is glad to be offering resources to students and the larger Vancouver Island community.
In addition to providing safer-sex supplies and pregnancy tests, UVic Pride also carries samples of chest binders and prosthetic penises that can then be ordered for trans members on an affordable sliding scale.
“I believe we’re the only queer group on [Vancouver Island] that has dedicated funding. People in the community will come to us requesting money for different events,” they say. “We’re not just for students, we’re a community collective.”