The University of Ottawa is celebrating 25 years of queer groups operating on campus, with Pride Week set to kick off March 2, promising an even mix of entertainment and education.
“We get all of our volunteers and members together and hash out ideas of what they’d like to see, what kind of workshops they’d like to attend and what kind of information they’d like to hear about,” says Pride Centre coordinator Brad Lafortune, who conceptualized the week with an advisory committee.
As part of the week’s event schedule, Toronto writer and educator Kim Crosby will conduct two workshops on femme-phobia and the politics of queer and trans organizing.
A third workshop, Decolonizing Gender Identity, will inform attendees about two-spirit identity.
Lafortune says that as more students hear about indigenous queer identity, they have requested opportunities to become more informed.
Another panel, entitled Queering Families, aims to present the full scope of the modern queer family and will feature queer parents, children of queer parents, prospective queer parents and representatives from queer family services, Lafortune says.
“[We want] . . . to give a different perspective on what it means to be a queer family,” he says. “What it means to deconstruct that traditional value of husband and wife and how they go about their everyday lives.”
University of Ottawa student Katie Koopman says she is looking forward to a March 6 drag show and is thinking about entering the competition dressed as the 10th incarnation of Dr Who.
Pride Week is an opportunity to increase the visibility of queer students, Koopman says.
“All the non-heteronormative sexualities and non-binary genders are still not universally accepted,” she says. “Pride Week is a way for us to get out there and show people that we are still people. We are different, but that’s okay.”
There are still cases of homophobia and transphobia at the university, Lafortune notes, adding that his campus group continually strives to create safer spaces for queer students.
Pride Week culminates March 9 with a queer prom at Club Saw featuring pro-gay rapper Cazwell.