Rainbow Centre hosts annual Queer Awareness Week

Photo by Paige Bush

Photo by Paige Bush

The Rainbow Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus is currently hosting its annual Queer Awareness Week, running the week of October 5-8.

The Rainbow Centre, affiliated with the Diversity and Equity office, is a space dedicated to educating and supporting members of, the LGBTQ+ community at Laurier.

“The Rainbow Centre isn’t just a club or a committee, we are actually a student service within the university, and with that in mind we always have to have an educational component to everything that we do,” said Karli Ferriolo, a coordinator with the Rainbow Centre.

“We provide a service and resources to students, to faculty, and to staff.”

Though it has been established at Laurier for nearly a decade, this year has marked advancements for the centre, which includes walking for the first time in Toronto’s Pride Parade.

Queer Awareness Week, held annually at the beginning of October, is the first of the year’s campaigns, with Trans Awareness following in November, Support Love in February and a final week in March held to help students de-stress as the year closes.

“The campaign weeks themselves, I think we do them as a way to educate people, and raise awareness about a specific topic,” said Ferriolo. “So instead of just having one-off events just randomly throughout the month, we take a particular week and just dedicate it to a campaign.”

Laurier’s Queer Awareness Week began on Monday, October 5, with the Rainbow Centre manning a booth in the Concourse and informing passersby of their upcoming activities.

Tuesday was trivia night, with the centre welcoming participants to test their knowledge of LGBTQ+ topics.

On Wednesday evening, the Rainbow Centre will be hosting a Coming Out event, where members of the Laurier community are invited to discuss coming out within the LGBTQ+ community, as well as their personal experiences on the subject.

The week will conclude on Thursday when the Rainbow Centre will assemble in the Quad at 5 p.m. to begin their annual Pride Parade around campus.

The event will be complete with face painting and a celebratory gathering following the march.

“It usually is just people from the Rainbow Centre, but we try to reach out to as many other groups, or just people on campus who might be interested,” said Rainbow Centre coordinator Sarah Szymanski.

With the aim of the week’s campaign to raise awareness of queer realities amongst the members of the general Laurier community.

The centre is also hopeful that individuals will take more notice of the centre itself and the resources and information available to anyone who wishes to access it.

“If you’re not part of the LGBTQ community you may not think about it as much, it’s just something you hear on the news, but you don’t give it too much thought,” said Szymanski.

“But it’s just good to see that there are people who belong to this group on campus, and they want to teach you things, they want to help you learn more about it, and they want to do it hopefully in like a fun way.”

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