Queer Orientation month is a student run initiative at Western University organized by LGBTQ+ social club Spectrum UWO in collaboration with Ally Western and Pride Western.
The initiative aims to allow queer students, regardless of their year, to connect with one another, provide information on resources, and offer tips and tricks on how to navigate the university as a queer student.
Sade Stacey, Spectrum UWO’s VP of Communications, and Layne Clarke, Ally Western’s Coordinator, say the motivation for the queer social groups to launch this initiative was because members wished events like this would’ve existed when they were in first year. “People need it, people have been desiring it, and people want to reach out and participate; the fact that [Queer Orientation Month] is here now makes a world of difference,” said Clarke.
Additionally, Clarke feels that opportunities like these aren’t currently available through Western’s official orientation programming.
“I don’t think Western looks at student experience as being diverse…[Western] really needs to consider that everyone’s student experience is not going to be the same and O-week programming should speak to that.”
Stacey adds that they’d like to see the university contribute in an official manner. “All of this is student work and we’re not getting paid. A lot of the times the services we are getting, we are building them from the ground up ourselves while managing schoolwork and juggling our social lives…It’s rewarding, but having that additional help [from the university] would be beneficial.”
Clarke notes that regardless of the lack of contribution from the university, this initiative is all about building a sense of community. They say, “we want to build networks and it really is meaningful to have friends who are like you because it’s people you can relate to, and people who can help create our own pocket in the Western community.”
Queer Orientation Month runs until September 27th and events include educational panels, discussion groups, yoga classes, queer sex-ed workshops, and more.