With welcome events fading away, the school year is officially up and running. There are a few things that characterize this time of year at the university — freshman slowly begin to settle into university life, class attendance drops as motivation fades and Queerapalooza is in full force.
Queerapalooza is a week-long event orchestrated by the University of Saskatchewan Student Union Pride Center in partnership with groups and organizations across the city. To learn more about this event, the Sheaf sat down with Pride Center co-ordinator Jory Mckay.
“It’s a really great way to show staff, students and faculty on campus, especially first years, that it’s okay to be LGBTQ2S+,” McKay said. “We support everyone regardless of their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.”
Throughout Queerapalooza week, there are a variety of events and workshops to celebrate gender and sexual diversity on campus. Some of the events — like the annual flag raising and two-spirit sharing circle — are long-standing traditions.
Other events, like the guest lecture given by history instructor Alessio Ponzio about male prostitution in post-fascist Italy on Monday night, are new and one of a kind in Queerapalooza history.
The Queer Resource fair is an important element of the celebration. Information is provided about relationships, mental and sexual health, and gender and sexual diversity.
This past summer, a peaceful protest was held by Saskatoon Sexual Health, Action Canada and Planned Parenthood Regina to ask Canada’s premiers to take sexual education seriously.
An event like this is important, especially with the lack of comprehensive sexual education in Canada. Though sex education is a human right, our country is currently below the United Nations standards.
Sex education in schools barely covers heterosexual sex appropriately, not speaking on delving into the queer side of things. Occasions like the protest and Queerapalooza’s resource fair aren’t common, but they connect people with information and resources that are pertinent to them while building relationships between the campus community and groups across the city.
Finally, one cannot discuss modern queer culture without including drag in the mix. With the mega-success of shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag has found its way into today’s popular culture. Along with it, a fascination as to how it’s all done. If you’re looking to test out the waters, look no further than at Queerapalooza’s closing event, Ye Olde Drag Show.
Happening on Friday, Sept. 27, Ye Olde Drag Show is a 16+ event. It features an inclusive, beginner-friendly drag workshop happening from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a drag show at 8 p.m., both at Louis’.
During the workshop, performers will help anyone curious about drag with their makeup as well as give some tips and tricks that they have learned over time. The doors open at 7 p.m., and the show begins at 8. According to McKay, it’s going to be an awesome one.
“There are lots of performers that have already planned out numbers,” McKay said. “From drag kings, drag queens and drag monarchs — who are individuals who don’t have gender identity when they are doing drag. So it’ll be super fun.”
Overall, the week is an amazing kick-off to the year-round work that the Pride Center does. Throughout the year, the drop-in center is open to all with helpful resources and peer support counselling as well as lots of weekly, biweekly and monthly events to further build the community.
The Pride Center also hosts an arsenal of discussion groups and game nights. With evening events happening on an almost daily basis, it’s a great place to reach out to like-minded people and connect with others from the LGBTQ2S+ community.
McKay hopes that this year’s Queerapaloza will be a stepping stone for many more to start getting involved in the community and making meaningful connections.
“There’s such a community, that’s out there, that you can just reach out and grab, they’re just so close,” McKay said. “But yet, we don’t actually go to do it because it’s scary.”
“But it’s so important to take that first step and actually get involved, whether it’s coming to the drag show, whether it’s helping us in volunteering at the drag show to set stuff up or if it’s coming to the queer resource fair, or the queer talk,” McKay said. “They’re all really great ways to meet lots of people within our community.”
Photo: Natalie Struck/ Supplied, Riley Deacon/ File