Allies and queers rejoice! The University of Waterloo’s very own Glow Centre, the oldest Canadian queer student organization, celebrated its 45th anniversary March 8, 2016. </p>
From its beginnings as the University of Waterloo’s “Gay Liberation Movement,” or WUGLM in 1971 with just a brochure and a constitution that was posted in Imprint’s previous iteration, The Chevron, Glow has grown tremendously over the years.
The original brochure detailed the infancy of Glow as “a group of gay friends [who] decided that there existed a desperate need to form an organization that would deal collectively with the problems presented to homophiles by their trying to live in an apparently hostile heterosexually-dominated society.”
Though society has changed since Glow’s inception, the original brochure showcases similar problems that affect queer students today. The brochure described a student being hassled at one of the university residences by heterosexual students and that it “was apparent that an organization could deal more effectively with this type of problem than a couple of individuals, so a group of eight students [formed] the Gay Liberation.”
From those eight students Glow has grown into a huge pillar of UW life for many students. It has morphed, in the words of Glow’s co-coordinator Andres Garcia Rodriguez, “from a movement to a known university service.” Through their countless events, including the incredibly popular Drag Me to the Bomber drag show, Glow has created a community for queer students and a safe place to gather.
For many students over its 45 years, Glow has served as a home and a safe haven at UW. For Akeylah Graham, a UW alumni and previous Glow co-ordinator, “Glow gave me a community like no other.” And even after leaving UW she will never forget performing at Drag Me to the Bomber with “Rufus LaCoq” in her first term volunteering at the Centre.
Not only has Glow supported queer students but in recent years a shift towards better supporting trans* students has begun. Glow advocated for and successfully implemented gender neutral washrooms on campus and rallied for updates to the name change policies to make it easier for trans* students to have their preferred name appear on school documents.
Although this anniversary marks a milestone for Glow, it also serves as a point of reflection for the future.
“In the future we hope to amplify our advocacy efforts. We will start this new venture with our protest on the restrictions on men who sleep with men donating blood, which will take place in parliament in October 2016. We had also been considering the idea of working more closely with Co-operative Education and Career Action Centre (CECA) to create a workplace that is more inclusive,” current Glow co-ordinators Rodriguez and Shari Brown said.
To celebrate its anniversary, Glow will be hosting a week of engaging events for undergraduates on campus from March 7-11.
As a fitting tribute, the main event was held March 7 at 6 p.m. in 161 Hagey Hall Theatre, where the first meeting of the Waterloo University Gay Liberation Movement was held in 1971.
After all, when asked if society’s attitudes could be changed in a positive direction, the brochure for the WUGLM wrote, “We think that most people in society at large have this capacity for acceptance. The bigots that don’t like [affection between the same sex] then have to learn to live with their own hangups. All that is requires is that we take the initiative.”