Being LGBT at university

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Are you queer? Gay? Trans? Then allow me to act as your unofficial queer don at the University of Waterloo. I’ll give you the inside scoop about being out and about in the University of Waterloo and in the KW region by answering your burning questions.

Is the University of Waterloo an accepting school?

Admittedly, we aren’t U of T or OCAD, where us queer students roam around in colourful flocks. UW is not an arts school, it’s a “hard science/math” school, and with that comes a lot of heteronormity and more traditional gender presentation.

Does that mean it is unaccepting of queer students? Not at all, it just means you may have to take a few extra steps to hunt down your new queer baes (see: the next section).

People usually keep out of each other’s business I find. If you are queer, people tend to not really care. Let’s be real, people are far more focused on creating their new startups or just trying to pass their first year than to care who you love or how you present yourself. We at Waterloo are a hungry, selfish bunch and that sort of works in your favour.

How can I get involved with the queer community at UW?

The first, and biggest, step is to visit Glow in SLC 2102. You don’t need to be out to attend, or even queer. It is meant as a support space for students looking to support queer students, whether that consists of themselves or not.

I was originally guilty of doing the whole seven passes by the office before finally going in. They are welcoming, and have Tuesday movie nights, Wednesday discussion groups, and Thursday board game nights. So don’t be shy!

Glow also has a Pride Week in June where they have loads of events, and buses that can bring you to the Trans* and Pride March. Engineers even have their own float in the parade!

Drag shows and other various events like bonfires also run at random times during the semester, so be sure to “Like” Glow’s page to stay updated!.

Where can I spend my weekends?

The Order is KW’s newest gay bar and a great place to start. Queer Night Out is another nightlife option but runs less frequently. Local theatres like The Registry Theatre sometimes have LGBT productions running.

The Tri-City area even has its own Pride Week that takes place at the beginning of June, so be sure to get involved in the concerts and events running that week.

Okay, but I’m trans, is there any specific things I should know about?

Universities in general tend to be rather unprepared when dealing with trans students, and UW is no exception. There are now gender-neutral bathrooms that Glow initiated, and a list of them can be found on Feds’ website.

You can also put in your preferred name for Quest.

Currently Health Services do not seem to have any trans-specific services, though Counselling Services are open to any and all students if you (or any other queer students) need someone to talk to.

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