June 9, 2020
June marks the start of Pride month, so institutions and organizations are trying new ways to celebrate, educate, and advance progress while maintaining the physical distancing required to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Kingston Pride festivities have moved online and at Queen’s, Positive Space facilitators are exploring wider notions of positive space – including online spaces.
“For just over 20 years, our Positive Space program has been about creating safe, physical spaces that welcome and value sexual and gender diversity,” says Jean Pfeiderer, Queen’s Human Rights and Equity Office’s Positive Space Coordinator. “More recently, our team and participants have discussed what it could mean to encourage and create virtual positive spaces, and the pandemic has certainly gone toward highlighting this concept given how much more we are interacting online.”
A first step has been creating an online version of the “Positive Space information session” that people attend in order to become participants in the program.
The diversity of experiences of people who identify in the LGBTQ+ community has long been reflected in the session through the use of videos, which have transitioned easily to the online version. Creating a respectful space online for conversations among participants has proven more challenging.
“An important part of the in-person sessions has always been the breakout group discussions, during which participants talk through scenarios and experiences relating to sexual and gender diversity,” says Pfleiderer. “We have built in more time for questions and interaction, and strive to moderate our sessions in a way that allows everyone space to be open and inquisitive.”
Employees and students are encouraged to enroll in the “virtual information session” using their NetID logins on the Positive Space website. The Positive Space team also provides a directory of links to Queer-positive resources at Queen’s and in Kingston.
Campus community members are also encouraged to explore the virtual events being hosted by Kingston Pride throughout June.