Queerapalooza: Celebrating sexual and gender diversity on campus

By in News

As the middle of the term approaches, the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union Pride Centre will host one of its annual events, bringing together people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to show that everyone can have fun, despite and even because of their differences.

Since its opening in 1997, the Pride Centre, located in room 104 of the Memorial Union Building, is a campus community that welcomes diverse groups of people. The Centre provides a friendly setting and seeks to work with people in an open and progressive environment that advocates, celebrates and affirms sexual and gender diversity.

Queerapalooza, running from Oct. 11-15, is an on-campus pride week celebration that will consist of different events to educate students and build awareness aboutqueerapolooza sexual and gender diversity on campus.

Kenny Starling, Pride Centre co-ordinator, shares that all students should get involved, as the week is about bringing people together and celebrating sexual diversity regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We’re supposed to build a community where these two groups of people can mingle and get to know each other and see that everyone is a person and we’re all the [same] and there’s really no difference except for our status. I think everyone should get involved because then it is an opportunity to have fun while getting to know people who could be someone who you may not normally hang out with just because of their sexuality or gender identity,” Starling said.

To kick-start the week on Oct. 11, an opening ceremony and flag raising will be held at noon in the Nobel Plaza. On Oct. 12, a Queer Poetry event will take place in Louis’ Loft at 8 p.m., beginning with featured poets and ending with an open mic. The event is open to anyone aged 16 and over and entry requires a $5 cover at the door.

In addition to these events, a sharing circle will be held on Oct. 13 in the USSU Campus Club Space, located in Place Riel room 220. The sharing circle is a two-spirit event that will be lead by OUT Saskatoon’s Marjorie Beaucage, a two-spirit elder and Manitoba Red River Franco-Metis cultural worker, community-based filmmaker and storyteller, researcher, educator and community leader. The circle is open to two-spirit individuals, their families, friends and allies, and will be followed by soup and bannock sponsored by the Aboriginal Students’ Centre.

On Oct. 14, an evening of fun and games, or “Gaymes Night,” will be held in the Pride Centre and everyone is welcome. The event is an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends in a gender and sexually diverse positive space.

The grand finale of the week will be the Totally Radical 80s Drag Show, sponsored by Divas Nightclub. The show is for attendees 19 and over and will be held in Louis’ on Oct. 15. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. and tickets will be sold for $12 at the door or $10 in advance at the Pride Centre or in the Arts Tunnel during Queerapalooza. All proceeds will be used to pay performers and provide future funding for the Pride Centre to hold similar events.

Starling adds that, although Queerapalooza is one of the most entertaining weeks at the Pride Centre, it is just one of the many that the Centre and the USSU will host throughout the year.

“I recommend that people go to the awareness weeks. I talk about identities that either have really bad [misconceptions] behind them — misconceptions or maybe just ignorance based on no knowledge on the situation or the topic,” Starling said.

Besides bringing awareness and celebrating the sexual and gender diversity on campus, Starling believes that Queerapalooza is important in terms of making a change.

“I believe that the universities, anywhere, especially the U of S is a place where we lead change. If we are more open and accepting, I feel like the rest of the city, then eventually the province, would follow suit.”

Jaline Broqueza

Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor

Featured Image: Mike T.