In the centre of a room with a face-painting booth to one side and a photo-wall with rainbow props set against the far wall, Eldrich Glazier, a 22-year-old human services foundation student, dances to Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out with as much enthusiasm as a performer on a stage.
As a child whose parents are transgender and non-binary respectively, Glazier is never ashamed to be himself, but with controversy surrounding the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, he has become more reserved.
At the Students’ Association’s Pride Dance hosted at the Observatory on Sept. 27, Glazier’s reservations fell away.
The Student Association dedicates a week every year to celebrate Pride and highlight the 2SLGBTQIA+ community on campus. However, the SA is looking to expand the week into a series of yearly events and is in the beginning phases of introducing the SA’s Queer All Year.
“It’s a way to celebrate Pride year-round,” said Amanda Logan, the events coordinator for the SA. “We see over the summer such a big boom of Pride celebrations across Canada, across the world, but we want to make sure it’s celebrated throughout the entire year, especially because we don’t have a lot of students here during the summer.”
The SA is in the process of hiring an equity, diversity and inclusivity coordinator, who will be heavily involved in the Queer All Year initiative as a subject matter expert and advocate for Algonquin College’s diverse population.
An official announcement of the Queer All Year initiative is pending further planning.
Amid the protests and counter-protests that raged across the country last week, including the “1MillionMarch4Children” advocating for the elimination of the sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum, students are left feeling uneasy about expressing themselves on campus.
“A lot of my mindset on keeping it a little bit low-key is what’s going on in the world right now,” said Glazier. “Especially with the whole anti-trans protest going on and having to out kids.”
“With the controversy with the protests, I don’t really know how everyone feels,” said Ben Jolly, 21, a film and media production student who attended the Pride Dance. “This is a public college, and everyone has different opinions and nowadays it’s more vocal.”
The Pride Dance is a place for students to be themselves in a safe environment, and the upcoming events associated with the Queer All Year initiative will build from that with new events and opportunities.
“We are advocates for the student body, and we want to make sure that students know that the SA is a place where they can be themselves,” said Logan.
Initiatives currently in the planning stage for Queer All Year involve bringing in some bigger name drag queens and re-introducing the Gender Blender event, where students who fall somewhere on the gender spectrum can mingle and find like-minded individuals.
Events such as the Pride Dance are important for students to give them a space to be themselves.
“They’re so open in letting anybody who is LGBTQ to go,” said Glazier. “You have all these different types of people who are coming together to be like, ‘This is who we are and we’re not all the same’.”
“It gives us an opportunity to get in touch with people more than what you see on television,” said Jolly. “The media has a very bad history of showing one side of the community, especially LGBT, so seeing what’s actually happening and meeting real people is much better.”