DSU Pride Collective promises easier accessibility to room and resources
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
College is the perfect place to find yourself, especially when it comes to being comfortable with your sexuality. Christen McDonald, Pride Representative, hopes that students will open their hearts and minds to people from all walks of life, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.
McDonald, an international student, realized she was bisexual during her adolescent years while moving across the globe.
“I was born in Jamaica, grew up in Scotland, then moved back to Jamaica before heading here to Canada,” she shared with the Other Press.
“When I went back to Jamaica, I found it to be more homophobic. As I realized that I was bisexual, there was no space to talk about it or find people that identified like myself. Canada offered a much more open space to talk. I started attending Douglas and found the Pride Collective. At the meetings, I began opening up and soon became comfortable with what I identified as after questioning for a while.”
McDonald credited the Pride Collective for helping her accept who she truly was. Years ago, former leaders began the collective because they saw that the DSU needed a safe space on campus for those who wanted to talk about queer topics. Today, trans individuals and the rights they ask for—such as bathroom and name changes—are at the forefront of societal discussion. According to McDonald, the Pride Collective at Douglas aims to provide them with the resources they need. However, while they are working to cater to those in the LGBTQ+ community, the Collective is in dire need of a facelift.
“The Pride Room is really outdated, with posters and resources from the mid-’90s. A majority of items in the room aren’t used often and makes the room a boring place to be,” said McDonald.
“When I first started going to the room, I was nervous about going to the front desk to get the code to open the door. Making the space into a resource room, a lounge space, and meeting area is my goal. We will start to make the room more accessible with an open door. Right now, it’s not within the budget to install an automatic door with a push button, so we are keeping it open during DSU hours starting in Fall 2017. We are planning to move the furniture to one side of the room so that [people who] aren’t able-bodied, with wheelchairs or crutches, can access the room with ease.”
Though limitations might be physical for some, others’ mindsets can be their own limitation. When dealing with close-minded people, McDonald begins by asking what they believe.
“A lot of people are scared of what they don’t know. Many of these misconceptions come from fear,” she said. “Once I meet an individual who doesn’t see eye to eye with me, I try my best to understand their upbringing and at the end of the day, accept the fact that I might not be able to change their minds. In society, everyone is seen a certain way, but are these preconceived notions real? No. One of the goals is to humanize those in the LGBTQ+ community. Though we identify differently, we are all human.”
McDonald encourages those who are thinking of joining the collective to attend one of their larger events in the future. Whether students identify as LGBTQ+ or not, she says that events hosted by the Pride Collective are for everyone.
Looking towards the future, McDonald hopes to push for more events such as Diversify Friday, which taught students about intersectionality, feminism, and gender in an engaging workshop.
For more information, search for their Facebook page, Douglas Pride Collective, or stop by Christen’s office or the Pride Collective in the DSU.