Young gays and lesbians in Montréal are very lucky. Not only do we live in one of the most vibrant, cosmopolitan cities in North America, but we also have access to the services offered by McGill, a world-renowned university right in our backyard! And for many Montrealers, Queer McGill has become synonymous with gay youth culture in the city. It is a multifaceted organization that provides political, social, support and information services.
Queer McGill defines itself as a political taskforce, tackling social justice and human rights issues in order to shape a more accepting future. In addition to queer issues, Queer McGill also takes on other types of discrimination in the gay community, including classism and racism.
The group is also an advocate for positive sexuality on campus and fights for trans issues and equality. Queer McGill has lobbied for unisex bathrooms, protested against the discriminatory practices of Héma-Quebec blood drives and fought for the students’ right to choose the names by which the university identifies them. Queer McGill is an excellent forum for members who want to help shapepolitical issues and push for social change.
An association for social change
Queer McGill also hosts many social activities. Every semester, McGill throws a huge party known as the Homo Hop, which is held on campus and is a major fundraiser for the many projects that the group organizes throughout the year.
Queer McGill organizes activities such as sledding on the mountain, for example, during which young people can express themselves freely and meet other members. Queer McGill also organizes Pride Week/Dyke Days, which is a full week of special events including shows, conferences and workshops. The events organized by Queer McGill throughout the year bring the community together and help young queers — who are often marginalized — see that they have a place in society and a community of their own.
A presence in the community
Queer McGill is also a support system for gays and lesbians within the university and the community. The organization holds three weekly discussion groups: the Queer Group, the Coming Out Group, and On the Margins (a group for individuals who are marginalized within the queer community).
These groups are safe forums for individuals who wish to discuss issues related to the queer community and provide resources for individuals coming to terms with their own sexual identity. They also often host special activities such as movie screenings and social events.
A queer line
Another service that Queer McGill provides is a listening and information line, the QueerLine, which is open Monday through Saturday, from 8 to 11 p.m. It is a listening service for members of the community at large that is completely confidential and offers an open line for one-on-one support and discussion. The QueerLine can be reached during its hours of operation at (514) 398-6822.
In addition to the QueerLine, Queer McGill is currently working on a peer listening and referral service for members of the community who want to discuss their problems and issues with a peer volunteer who receives proper training and support from a counselling professional. These Queer McGill services are a support network for individuals who need help dealing with the daily challenges they face.
The information service that Queer McGill provides is invaluable to the community. The organization has a library that is free of charge and open to everyone, offering pamphlets, books, movies, and safer sex products.
In addition, Queer McGill provides information services to high school workers and community groups, working with them to help them deal with issues such as homophobia and creating queer-positive spaces. The organization also provides a similar service to the McGill Residences, offering workshops on sexual issues to students living in university housing. Members of the community are welcome to stop by the Queer McGill office in Room 432 of the Shatner building (3480 McTavish) to take advantage of the services they have to offer.
Queer McGill staff welcomes everyone to drop by the office for more information. The organization hosts open meetings throughout the semester and students are welcome to attend. Queer McGill also has a website at http://www.queermcgill.ca, which provides information on the group’s many activities, as well as discussion boards and contact information. Queer McGill is a valuable resource for members of the McGill community and for young queers in Montréal.