Whats the LGBT community like there at the university?
Thanks for your question, it’s a good one!
My first thought when I read it is that perhaps you were looking for resources available at U of G for our Rainbow/LGBT*Q+ Community, in which case I’d recommend that you check out this post.
When I re-read your question however, it struck me that perhaps you were looking for more of an experiential account of our queer community. Now, I can only speak from my personal experience here, but to me our queer community is something that is all around me, but is diffuse at the same time. We’re kind of like a field of bubbles. Some are big, some are small, many overlap, and others are independent.
It exists outside and beyond the designated safe spaces and is a part of the network of friendships I’ve come to make within the Guelph community. I’m not sure if this is because I attract other queer folks (people come out to me often, it happened on my very first day in res!) or because we just happen to share similar worldviews and interests – either way, many of my queer connections were established in and around my residence (Arts House), in my classes, at work, and through academic and volunteer opportunities (like the Undergraduate Research Group in Sexuality or the Guelph Sexuality Conference).
Later in my undergrad, I established formal ties with U of G’s queer community as an OUTline Volunteer and through GQE’s listserve (contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in on that!). I was still meeting awesome queer folks in other places and spaces, as a volunteer at the Student Support Network and through friends of friends. After I graduated, I started craving that community feel again, so I became an Out On The Shelf volunteer. Now, as the Program Facilitator for OUTline, I get to meet and collaborate with amazing queer community members all the time!
I think that part of my unique experience of U of G’s queer community is that fact that I was out and visible, and I was attracted to signs of visibility in others (I met one of my closest buddies at U of G by complimenting the rainbow triangle pin she was sporting on her backpack). I sought out queer groups and spaces and found ins through social events and volunteer opportunities.
I suspect that it might be more difficult to identify and approach queer folks if you’re not out, but that doesn’t mean the community isn’t there for you or that you’re alone. I think the rainbow of resources that U of G offers are a great place to start for someone entering their first year at U of G – what things you’ll gravitate towards may depend on where you’re at in your journey. If you’re just starting to question your identity, you might call OUTline and talk it out with us confidentially and anonymously. If you’re out to yourself but not others, you might attend CampOUT meetings to talk about barriers and meet other folks in a similar boat. If you’re out and proud, you might attend GQE socials to meet other people. If you’re an activist or a helper, you might look into volunteer opportunities with queer-friendly organizations like the ones I just mentioned, or SpeakOUT at the Wellness Centre, or the Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity.
On the whole, I’d say that our community sometimes feels a little fragmented – but I think that’s because at the end of the day, the LGBT*Q+ students at U of G are just living their lives, making friends and working through their degrees. Sometimes we to come together, sometimes we hang out with our hetero homies, and just as often we’re a big jumble of diverse folks who happen to be great friends. A person’s experience of our community is going to depend on how out they are, how they make friends, and what they’re interested in.
No matter what though, there are always going to be resources available to you. Not sure which one might be right for you? Give us a call, and we’ll help you to sort it out :3
In the summer, we’re open on Mondays, from 3:30 to 6pm, and Wednesdays, from 6 – 9pm. We’ll be open on Fridays, from 1-3pm, starting on September 6th.