Pride Month: Glow Centre Highlight

Published: Monday, June 3, 2024

Spaces on campus where 2SLGBTQIA+ students feel safe to be themselves, and where their safety and confidentiality is protected, are crucial to the health of the university. Founded in March of 1971, The Glow Centre is the oldest continuously running 2SLGBTQIA+ student centre in Canada. As a student service, Glow has a team of undergraduate students who work together with WUSA to create a safe and welcoming space for everyone on campus. The services Glow provides include advocacy, education, and social networking opportunities. As well as fostering a welcoming space for students to meet new people and access resources, Glow also collaborates with several spaces on and off campus to strengthen the broader 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Glow also hosts weekly events from Monday to Thursday, like board game or craft nights, as well as annual and bi-term events, such as Lavender Ball or Pride events.

The safe and welcoming community was what initially attracted the current coordinators, Leith and Riley, to the Centre itself. This term, Glow is focusing on building up a strong sense of community among volunteers, executives, coordinators, and centre users. Both students are hoping to provide a sense of belonging for others, much like the one that they experienced themselves. It can be challenging for gender and sexually diverse students to feel comfortable and accepted in their day-to-day lives, even when on campus. For some students, living on campus can be anxiety-inducing, sometimes even interacting with classmates can create unsafe environments. Some students don’t even have safe spaces off campus as going home can be unsafe or unwelcoming to them. Unfortunately, despite the progress we’ve made, and are continuing to make, homophobia and transphobia are still very present in our modern world. That being said, this is why spaces like Glow are crucial to the mental health and wellbeing of the University of Waterloo population.

During spring term is Pride Month, a month celebrating the Gay Liberation Movement and surrounding the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan in 1969. It commemorates the many years of civil rights struggles and constant pursuits for equal justice for 2SLGBTQIA+ people. This month is always a big time for The Glow Centre, and we have many events lined up. This year, Glow’s Pride events are starting on June 1st at the Tri-Pride Summer Festival. Following this event comes many more social opportunities and environments, such as the Pride Picnic. The month’s festivities will be wrapped up at the Toronto Pride Parade on June 30th.

“As a young queer person, I needed to see a community beyond just my high school. For a long time, I didn’t know 2SLGBTQIA+ people who actually were successful, I only knew myself sitting in an empty second floor room in my high school, attempting to lift a Gender and Sexuality Alliance from an idea to reality. The Glow Centre has provided the space I need to not only make connections, but also to grow as a person. Almost two years ago I spent all of my time hiding from the world. Now, since beginning to volunteer at Glow, I have a space where I can be myself. The power of acceptance and welcoming communities is strong, and it works quickly. I strive to give other struggling first-years that same hope, warmth, safety, and opportunities through The Glow Centre.”

– Riley (he/they), Glow Coordinator

“Since being a part of Glow, I’ve been so impressed with the amount of connections, networking, and events that have been pulled off. The labour and care the executives,
volunteers, and past coordinators have put in is something we truly need to treasure. Having a dedicated group of people who are willing to put in the time to uplift the LGBTQ+ student community here on campus has been continuously inspiring and uplifting to me. I hope that the efforts of my co-coordinator and I this term will help propel Glow forward for many more years to come.”

– Leith (he/they), Glow Coordinator

The Centre wouldn’t be where it is today without the continued efforts of all Centre users and volunteers over the decades. This month is especially important for us, being
Pride Month, to showcase our own strength of community and the pride the Glow team has for the space we have grown. It is truly an honour to be a part of this ongoing legacy for
2SLGBTQIA+ folks campus. For more information about all Glow events, check out our website where you can find a list of our events, and on Instagram at @uwglow and on Facebook at glowuw!

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