Queer Orientation is a series of events and activities during September and October that aim to raise the visibility of UBCO's queer community on campus. The events range from movie nights and discussions, to workshops and poetry readings. The QO is organized, coordinated and sponsored by the UBCSUO Pride Resource Centre and the Equity & Inclusion Office’s Positive Space Committee. A couple of the events are also sponsored by the College of Graduate Studies & the UBCSUO Women's Resource Centre, making all of the events free. It is really important to us that the events are accessible to all students who wish to attend.
The first Queer Orientation in 2016 was a result of the initial findings of the Que(e)rying Campus Research team which were later published in the Campus Diversity Project. The research found that LGBTQ+ students on campus reported feelings of isolation and they had frustrations about the inadequacy of campus services that were meant to support them. The students "wanted the university to play an active role in helping students build an organic network of LGBTQ+ identified students"
One of the calls to action in the report recommends "offering pre-entry campus orientations for LGBTQ+ and racialized students that run parallel to the APS and IPS orientations." Members of the Positive Space Committee joined with the PRC to co-coordinate the first QO. Many students, staff and faculty came out to the events & they’ve since decided to make it an annual event.
Jordy Decker, co-coordinator of the Pride Resource Centre shared her thoughts on this year’s events: "Queer orientation helps the queer community on campus by connecting returners with incoming students. Our wealth of knowledge and representation grows as more people connect with the queer community. We are all continuously learning and all have knowledge to share."
Decker also stated that "holding a specific queer orientation allows for students who understand the specific needs of queer students to pass along information to those new to campus. It allows students to have a safe space to ask questions about resources and opportunities available for queer students."
Queer orientation is important for students at all levels of experience with queer communities. Some have been very active, and some are afraid to associate with the queer community. In either circumstance, it’s important to have a visible presence on campus so students can continue their involvement, know the PRC volunteers are available to chat with if they are considering coming out, or simply take comfort in knowing we are present even if they are not ready to attend queer events.
Both the Equity & Inclusion Office staff and the PRC coordinators want to stress that all events are open to everyone; LGBTQ+ students and allies are welcome to attend.
The final event of this year’s QO will take place on National Coming Out Day, October 11th 6:00-8:00pm in UNC 212 (Aboriginal Programs & Services). It will feature poet Gwen Benaway, a bisexual feminist Gemini trans girl of Anishinaabe and Métis descent.
We hope to see you there, thanks in advance for coming out!