Building a portfolio of inclusivity and community at Queen’s
June 29, 2022
Born from a desire to nurture inclusivity, Yellow House is committed to creating a comfortable and accountable space for students who identify as QTBIPoC. There, feelings of safety, empowerment, and community are fostered, allowing students to celebrate their identity and flourish.
"Yellow House offers programming throughout the year for QTBIPoC students to help de-stress, connect and find community, learn new skills, get physically active, focus on academics, and find joy,” says Kel Martin, Sexual and Gender Diversity Advisor at Yellow House.
Yellow House – located at 140 Stuart Street – opened in Spring 2020, and was inspired through the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI). The centre serves as a home to the African Caribbean Student Association (ACSA), Levana Gender Advocacy Centre (LGAC), Queen's Black Academic Society (QBAS), and Queen’s University Muslim Students’ Association (QUMSA), and seeks to engage QTBIPoC students through a variety of programs and initiatives.
Martin, hired in late October 2021, designs and delivers programming for, and advises 2SLGBTQ+ students. The advising aspect of their role involves supporting students through listening to concerns, then connecting them with resources and other offices and supports who can help. Martin also works closely with various offices, teams, student clubs to design and deliver events for 2SLGBTQ+ students.
New programming available
There are six Sexual and Gender Diversity programs already in place or launching this year: Fierce Movement, Many Identities Speaker Series (MISS), Queering Academics, Adulting, What a Drag!, and Joy in the Community.
In addition to working with groups to honour days of significance, such as Transgender Day of Remembrance, Trans Day of Visibility, Pride and others, Yellow House is committed to wellbeing initiatives year-round. Gender Splendor, a support group for trans, nonbinary, and other non-cisgender students, is one of those programs. Martin co-facilitates Gender Splendor with Shannon Gendron, who is the 2SLGBTQ+ Counsellor from Student Wellness Services.
One of the ways in which Yellow House promotes a more holistic approach to self care is through physical health. Fierce Movement focuses on creating safer and affirming spaces for physical activity and movement for the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and includes Solidarity Swims, QTBIPoC Hikes, Queer Yoga, and more.
Solidarity Swims are open to Queen’s students and Kingston community members who are trans and/or agender, nonbinary, genderqueer, bigender, Two-spirit or otherwise non-cisgender. When this initiative was introduced in March, Queen’s Athletics & Recreation Centre staff ensured a positive experience by adding extra privacy for changerooms, gender neutral signage during swims, and training lifeguards in trans-affirming lifeguarding, among other assurances. The training ensured the perspectives of those in attendance were at the forefront and created great dialogue around considerations inside the facility and for similar initiatives.
“We were delighted to work with Kel and the Yellow House in support of many new student program initiatives to foster belonging and wellbeing to individuals on our campus and in the greater community,” says Gareth Cunningham, Associate Director, Recreation and Active Living, Athletics & Recreation. “The Solidarity Swims hopefully demonstrated the welcoming and inclusive opportunities available through our facilities and program staff. It was a passion project for our aquatics program staff in particular.”
Yellow House worked with Gender Affirming Assistance Project (GAAP) on the Solidarity Swims to connect swimmers with gender-affirming swimwear. Planning is underway to bring the program back this fall.
Pride Month highlights the important role Yellow House plays in fostering a positive environment for QTBIPoC students at Queen’s. It’s a place where those who need a voice, can find it. And those who deserve a supportive community, can build one.
Furthermore, it’s a celebration of identity.
Additional resources can be found on the Inclusive Queen’s page.