Supporting the 2SLGBTQ+ community
Throughout the year, the Queen’s Yellow House Student Centre for Equity and Inclusion works to support and celebrate 2SLGBTQ+ students through resources, advising, and programming. And this June they are taking part in activities for Pride Month, a time of celebration and protest for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Representatives from the centre will be showing their support by joining Kingston Pride’s community fair on June 17 and running a community mural.
During the month, the centre will also be releasing Pride-themed content on their social media channels, and running a Pride sign-making event open to Queen’s community members. Looking to the future, they will be using Pride Month and beyond to plan programming for the return of students this fall, building on a year of successful events that helped strengthen a sense of community for 2SLGBTQ+ students.
“The Yellow House is an incredible space and support for students, where we can support when things go wrong, but also an incredible space to learn, to feel affirmed, and joyful as we connect with our community,” says Kel Martin, Sexual and Gender Diversity Advisor at Yellow House. “This past academic year was the first in which our centre was able to offer a full year of in-person programming, and we saw a lot of enthusiasm among students to connect with each other and strengthen their sense of community over shared activities not limited to arts & crafts, coffee houses, hikes, field trips, yoga, drag cycling, support groups, swims, games nights, book club, movie screenings, drag nights, trivia nights, workshops, study spaces, cooking, networking, speakers, and community gatherings. We’re looking forward to finding new ways to help 2SLGBTQ+ students feel a sense of belonging and build community in the year to come.”
Yellow House hosted a wide range of events last year that provided opportunities for students to connect with their queer peers while getting active, learning new skills, and exploring identity. 2SLGBTQ+ students had the chance to get moving together through activities such as QTBIPoC Hikes, Solidarity Swims, Queer Yoga, and Drag cycling in the Fierce Movement program. They also practiced valuable life skills, such as cooking and career preparation, through the Adulting Program. The Queering Academics events provided workshops and Queer Study Space sessions in Yellow House that gave students a chance to focus on studying and developing academic skills. In addition to these three programs there were a total of seven programs offered by Yellow House to support 2SLGBTQ+ students this year.
The centre also collaborated with several campus partners and Kingston community members this year to develop and deliver more than 150 events for 2SLGBTQ+ students.
“The Yellow House wouldn’t be what it is without the incredible support of many collaborators across Queen’s units especially the Division of Student Affairs offices and centres, student clubs, individual students, and community members. Almost every event we host involves working with a collaborator,” says Martin.
The Cooking with Queers program, for example, worked with local food business Knifey Spooney to make vegan loaded nachos, and Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre at Queen’s collaborated with Yellow House to bring students a fry bread taco event. Yellow House also worked closely with Athletics and Recreation to design and deliver programming focused on movement and wellbeing. The centre also hosted a series of QTBIPoC Coffee Houses throughout the year in collaboration with many different campus groups, such as the Society of Graduate and Professional Students, the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society Equity Team, the Sexual Health Resource Centre, and the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre. These events and many others gave 2SLGBTQ+ students opportunities to connect with various resources and build community across campus over coffee and conversation.
Student staff contributions
Student staff members at Yellow House lend their energy and creativity to the centre throughout the year by helping to develop and organize the events that help the 2SLGBTQ+ community feel home at Queen’s. This summer, two student staff members will be working full time to assess the previous year’s programming and get ready for the 2023-24 academic year.
“This summer I’m working on creating a series of well-being programs and content such as recorded guided meditations for students to listen to on their own, paint nights, and resource lists,” says Mars Atkins, Sexual and Gender Diversity Programming Assistant and student in the Psychology and Gender Studies programs. “My main goal is to make wellness as accessible as possible. Going to an event or accessing a resource for the first time can be anxiety inducing, so I’m creating tools to help students feel more confident in taking that first step towards accessing what they need. Lots of good stuff is brewing at the Yellow House, so keep an eye out for it this coming fall.”
In addition to helping students access resources, Yellow House student staff are also developing programs that use art for wellness and community building.
“One of my primary goals is to create spaces where queer and trans individuals can just show up as they are, and feel comfortable, affirmed, and celebrated for who they are,” says Laurent Yang, Sexual and Gender Diversity Programming Assistant and student in the Life Sciences program. “For me, art is a powerful medium for individual self-expression, exploration, and imagination. It’s very versatile and accessible, and there’s always something for everyone, whether you’re interested in creative writing, painting, collaging, or knitting. I’m interested in expanding on the existing programming we have with various art events, as well as fostering creativity and imagination for a queer future.”
As Yellow House continues preparing for the year ahead, they hope to expand their network of community partners involved in their programming. They are particularly interested in finding community involvement in their ‘What a Drag!’ program, which focuses on drag history and performance, and creating spaces for folx to learn about and practice drag. They are also seeking individuals who can teach personal finance from a 2SLGBTQ+ perspective. As always, they are seeking student insight and involvement throughout their programming.
Learn more and find out how to get involved on the Yellow House website.
Note: This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette.