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Pride Centre hosts weeklong affair celebrating university’s LGBTQ community

Patricia-Joy Crosby | Fulcrum Staff

Photos by Mico Mazza

CAMPUS PRIDE WEEK was an overwhelming success this year as it saw its best attendance yet and raised more than $2,700 for LGBTQ support services.

The annual series of events ran from March 2–10 this year and included a variety of activities for all students to enjoy. The week saw game nights, karaoke, workshops, lectures, a drag show, and more, all culminating with the closing ceremony, the queer prom, held at Club Saw.

The university’s Pride Centre started organizing the events last May and worked on them right up until the final day. Coordinator Brad Lafortune commented on the success of Campus Pride Week and the huge effort his coworkers put into it.

“It was great to see our work come to fruition and to see so many students enjoying the events and workshops,” said Lafortune.

photo courtesy of Zoom Productions

Campus Pride Week and the Pride Centre in general aim to promote awareness of LGBTQ-related issues and to combat homophobia and transphobia.

One of the most anticipated events of the week was the annual drag show competition, which has consistently drawn a large crowd and raised significant sums of money for Around the Rainbow, a support service for the LGBTQ community in Ottawa.

Lafortune said the Pride Centre chose to donate to Around the Rainbow for their great work in the Ottawa community. The organization provides LGBTQ counselling support about relationships, dating, and families, as well as training and education workshops for health providers, educators, schools, and social services.

Deyoncé Winfrey, one of the competitors at the drag show, arrived with her large entourage and brought down the house with the inspiring numbers “Love on Top” and “Listen” by Beyoncé.

While this is only Winfrey’s second performance—the first one was at a Students’ Association of the Faculty of Arts event—she was ecstatic to participate and connect with the crowd.

“I just find everyone sexy when I’m performing, but the ultimate connection is emotion,” she said. “It was an amazing experience.”

Winfrey said she gets her inspiration—and her name—from two powerful women, Beyoncé Knowles and Oprah Winfrey.

“Every time I see Beyoncé perform on stage and watch Oprah Winfrey on TV, it just inspires me. They are such amazing women,” she said. “They make me want to share the love of the world with everyone.”

The Pride Centre runs yearly campaigns, such as the Gender Inclusive Washroom and the Hate Response Protocol, that work toward creating a more inclusive environment for students. It also provides ally training to any student, group, club, or organization that wants to create a safer space for LGBTQ-identified people.

One of the biggest LGBTQ issues on campus—and one that Winfrey mentioned in her interview with the drag show judges—is often that new LGBTQ students find it hard to integrate into the LGBTQ campus community. The Pride Centre is trying to help with this through its services and activities.

“The various workshops also give students the opportunity to learn more about LGBTQ-related topics and give them the tools to create a safer, more welcoming space for LGBTQ students on our campus,” Lafortune said.

The Pride Centre also runs a Buddy Up with Pride program that sets up students with a mentor to help them get better acquainted with the community.
Lafortune invites all students to stop by the Pride Centre to get involved.