A Look Back at 50 Years of Glow: Longest Running LGBTQ+ Student Organization in Canada

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Fri, 03/05/2021 - 13:30

Glow 50

Whether you are looking for a safe space on campus, want to learn how to be an active ally, or seeking to be educated on LGBTQ+ experiences, the Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity (Glow) is the place to go. But how did they get here? The Waterloo Universities’ Gay Liberation Movement was founded in 1971 to create a space for members of the queer and trans community to feel included and safe at the University of Waterloo. Now known as Glow, this service is run entirely by dedicated student volunteers and promotes a healthy attitude towards all sexual orientations and gender identities on the University of Waterloo campus by providing a wide variety of peer support, social events and resources. It also works to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and towards further equity for these folks on campus. Glow is also the oldest continuously run LGBTQ+ student organization in Canada. 

Since its inception, Glow has had to overcome various challenges related to equality and fair representation. From a time when being gay was considered a physiological disorder to the first ever meeting of Glow at UWaterloo, the hard work of dedicated volunteers continues to grow. Only months after the first meeting, Glow volunteers were advocating to governments, hosting general meetings with guest speakers, printing informative materials, planning a radio program, hosting different social nights, directing plays and dramas, providing counseling, and connecting with those outside the community. They continued to create awareness about different sexual orientations and gender identities, and to ensure that any backlash was met with knowledge and information about the LGBTQ+ community. All the advocating, hard work, and resilience Glow’s volunteers have displayed has helped to shape this community to what it is today. 

Here at Waterloo, Glow provides different opportunities for students to get involved with them:  

  1. Peer Support: Confidential peer support for undergraduates is available every single week by appointment. This peer support is provided by trained Glow volunteers for queer, trans, and questioning students.  

  2. Meetings and Events: Over the course of each academic year, Glow hosts events regularly as a way for students to meet new people, learn about current LGBTQ+ issues, and enjoy a safe space. These events range from movies and boardgame nights to discussion circles.  

  3. Lending Library: The Glow Centre has several bookable resources available for student use. While borrowable resources can be borrowed by University of Waterloo undergraduate students for a period of 120 days, non-borrowable resources cannot be taken out of the Centre but are available for students to read within the Centre itself. There are also other resources available at the UWaterloo Library, W Store and the Waterloo and Kitchener city libraries. If students are looking for something specific, they can reach out to a Glow volunteer for help.  

  4. Trans Resources: Committed to serving trans-identifies and gender variant persons, Glow makes several relevant resources accessible. So, if students are having a tough time, or know someone who is having a tough time, they can contact Glow volunteers and they will do everything in their control to find the information they are looking for. 

  5. Incident Report and Feedback Form: Glow is open to receiving feedback to continually improve their services and the experiences of those accessing them. The Glow Centre is meant to be a safe space where anyone can feel comfortable and share their experiences, they are constantly striving to be better and maintain this level of safety for all students. If a student has ever felt unsafe or uncomfortable, they can fill in the incident report form to report an issue and the impact it had on the person involved. With any issue, no matter how small—Glow takes the safety of the student, type of injustice and impact very seriously. Additionally, if students have any suggestions or ideas on how Glow can improve their services or add to what they already do, they can fill out an anonymous feedback form

This March 8, the Glow Centre will celebrate its 50th Anniversary! Join us in celebrating the Glow Centre by acknowledging its accomplishments with a party! Everyone is invited to celebrate this occasion with Glow via Zoom, on March 8, 2021, at 7 PM EST. For more details on the event and to register, check out Glow’s 50th Anniversary event on Ticketfi

Please consider accessing the following resources for support and to continue your everyday learning: 

Congratulations to all the amazing students and volunteers over the past 50 years and the many milestones you have helped this service accomplish!