June may officially be Pride Month, but every month can be full of the beautiful colours of Pride! As such, I talked to the current Service Coordinators at the Federation of Students’ Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity at the University of Waterloo, Gabriella Verdone and Judy Liu, about what they do on campus year round. I hope this interview helps keep the conversation about LGBTQ+ Pride going!
Q: What program and year are you both in?
Gabriella: I’m in my 3B term, working toward a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Financial Management.
Judy: I’m in my 4B term, working toward a Bachelor of Computer Science and Bachelor of Business Administration Double Degree.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about what The Glow Centre does?
G & J: The Glow Centre provides a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, and supportive allies, where they might gather. We also operate advocacy, education, peer support, and social networking services on their behalf. The Glow Centre organizes a variety of events throughout the year to help connect people: drag shows, Pride Parade trips, tie-dye events, board game events, talk events, and many more.
Q: When did you both start volunteering with The Glow Centre? What inspired you to get involved with the student-run service?
G: I started in my first year; I joined with friends to meet more people in the community who might have similar experiences.
J: I also started in my first year; I wanted to do something outside of academics and meet new people.
Q: What does being a Service Coordinator at The Glow Centre entail?
G & J: Service Coordinators are in charge of many of the day-to-day operations, as well as organizing events. We deal with the logistics of organizing the centre, bookings, communicating with other groups, etc.
Q: What’s the history behind raising the Pride flag on the UWaterloo campus?
G & J: This year is the second year the flag has been raised, and we’re hoping that it will become an annual thing. The first flag raising occurred on June 12, 2017, with approval from the President’s office, along with the Orlando One Year Vigil hosted by The Glow Centre. Campus Police raised the flag during the vigil.
The idea to raise the flag was initiated by The Glow Centre’s Executive Team of spring 2017 (the team is always entirely made up of undergraduate students). It was inspired by Waterloo elementary and high schools raising the Pride flag every June. We also had suggestions from various members of our community to do the same at UWaterloo. Feds staff and executives helped us obtain the flag.
Q: What do both the Pride flag itself, and its raising here, mean to you? What do they symbolize?
G & J: The Pride flag represents a place of support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Raising the Pride flag at UWaterloo shows that this university recognizes that our community is present and important.
Q: A lot of students were enthusiastic about going to the Trans March and the Pride Parade in Toronto with The Glow Centre. Can you tell us a little bit about those experiences?
G & J: We had a great turnout at both the Trans March and the Pride Parade this year. At Pride, we got to march as students and faculty representing the LGBTQ+ community and its allies at UWaterloo. As always, we had a dance (this year to Adam Lambert’s "If I Had You") to show our pride and unity throughout the parade. This is always our biggest event of the spring term, and it’s a lot of fun for everyone participating.
The Trans March is much more somber than the Pride Parade, as it still has much more of a “protest tone.” Students got to gather in The Glow Centre and make signs before taking a van to Toronto for the march.
Q: How does the UWaterloo community keep the momentum gained during Pride Month going?
G & J: We definitely have less going on after all the events during Pride Month, but The Glow Centre continues with weekly events. We will also be helping with a Women’s Centre event this month, for example.
Q: Are there any specific resources or events you’d like to list for LGBTQ+ UWaterloo students?
G & J: The Glow Centre has peer support available from 5-6 p.m. every weekday; we offer one-on-one confidential chats with trained volunteers. Additionally, anyone can drop in to The Glow Centre to hangout from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays.
- Talking About Things on Mondays (7-10 p.m.)
- Board Game Night on Tuesdays (7-10 p.m.)
- Tea Time Talks on Wednesdays (2:30-4:30 p.m.)
- Movie Mayhem on Thursdays (7-10 p.m.)
Q: Why should other Waterloo students get involved with The Glow Centre? Are LGBTQ+ students the only ones who can get involved?
G & J: It’s a great way to meet people in the community and meet those who support the LGBTQ+ community. We encourage students from all backgrounds and cultures to get involved and help make The Glow Centre a better space for everyone. Anyone who is supportive of the community can get involved with The Glow Centre!
Q: How do students find out about how to get involved?
Want to hear more from Gabriella and Judy? Check out the Instagram Live session they hosted in June to learn tips on how to be a good ally!