A guide to queer resources at U of G
As a new school year begins, some students may find themselves questioning or redefining their sexual orientation or gender identity and may be wondering what resources are available. These students are not alone. It’s tough to get an exact estimate on the number of LGBTQ+ students at Guelph, but there are active queer communities on campus and downtown, as well as in-person and online resources available for those who need guidance and support.
What Does LGBTQ+ Stand For?
The short answer is: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and more.
The long answer is that the terminology of gender and sexual diversity is complicated and contested. Each of those letters (and there are many other versions of the acronym) stands for a vibrant and diverse group of people with cultures and histories worth exploring.
The main point is that there is no one way to identify — and that identities can change.
The Ontarion spoke to a gender non-binary individual who belongs to the local queer community about identity.
“My identity is continuously changing. It’s mostly because I keep learning new terms. I called myself bisexual for a number of years, but I’ve dated people outside of that binary and so pansexual just fit better. In terms of gender, I’ve always walked the line of masculinity and femininity, and when I realized you didn’t have to identify as either it took a load off of what I was feeling internally,” said the individual, who asked The Ontarion to remain anonymous.
There is no right way to come out, and no rush to settle one’s identity once and for all.
“That comes with time,” they continued, “Being open to experiences and being in touch with your emotions is the most important thing. And surrounding yourself with supportive people is definitely the best thing you can do.”
For Shayne Ward, the incoming chair of Guelph Pride 2018, support came in the form of coworkers.
“A lot of my comfort with my sexuality really came with having the opportunity to work with adults who were already comfortable with their sexualities,” said Ward.
“I was fortunate to have role models that stepped up and accepted me as a young member of the same community.”
For Ward, that feeling of acceptance was a long time coming.
“I think I’ve really known I was gay since 2005 when I started high school,” said Ward, “but certain circumstances such as attending a high school in Washington, DC, and dealing with my mom being very sick with cancer, and ultimately just going through puberty and discovering myself made things quite complicated. By February 2010, I finally found a space where I was feeling a bit comfortable with my sexuality.”
Whatever resources students choose to access, Ward makes it clear that the spirit of the LGBTQ+ community in Guelph is that all are welcome.
“No matter what, you are always loved regardless of your status,” he said.
Students seeking that kind of comfort can look to a number of organizations on campus:
- Guelph Queer Equality
- The Student Support Network
- The Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity
- The Wellness Education Centre
For more information on these resources, please see our student resource guide
- Pride and Prejudice, a group for LGBTQ+ youth
- Out On The Shelf, a library and resource centre
- ARCH, HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health
- FIERCE!, a queer monthly dance party
- Guelph Pride
What Allies Can Do
Students who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ can use the same resources to better support their LGBTQ+ peers. Straight, cisgendered allies can help in many ways:
- Research gender and sexual diversity
- Listen openly and without judgment to LGBTQ+ experiences
- Respectfully use preferred pronouns
- Strive to remove presumptive gendered language from their vocabularies
Photo courtesy of Pexels CCO.