October is McGill’s first LGBTQ2i+ History Month, organized by the Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) Office, with the support of the Office of the Provost. The month long program starts with a launch on Tuesday, October 2, at Thomson House restaurant, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
LGBTQ2i+ History Month is a collaborative effort of the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (IGSF); The Joint Board-Senate Committee on Equity (JBSCE); the McGill Library; the Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support, and Education (OSVRSE); Queer McGill; the Queer Grad Club; and other McGill and community partners.
“Equity education at McGill is ever-growing in its importance and visibility,” says Angela Campbell, Associate Provost (Equity and Academic Policies). “LGBTQ2i+ History Month contributes significantly to our aspirations in this realm. We are proud to have this special opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness about LGBTQ2i+ issues on campus, and in society more generally.”
First in Canadian university history
LGBTQ+ History Month was first organized in 1994 in St Louis, Missouri, by a graduate student at University of Missouri–St. Louis named Rodney Wilson. Wilson, who also taught high school history, became the first openly gay K-12 teacher in Missouri.
LGBTQ+ History Month is now celebrated across the United States and the United Kingdom. McGill’s will be the first of its kind at a Canadian university.
“McGill features its own unique acronym: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer, and 2i+,” says co-organizer Meryem Benslimane, Equity Education Advisor, Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “This highlights Two Spirit people (the ‘2’), and Intersex People (the ‘i’), who are often erased or forgotten in LGBTQ+ politics and history. We really wanted to highlight the realities of the most marginalized groups within LGBTQ2i+ communities, and it starts with the acronym.”
“Two-spirited” refers to a person with both a masculine and a feminine spirit, and is used by some First Nations people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. It may encompass a wide variety of gender variance, including people who might be described in Western culture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, or with multiple gender identities.
“Intersex” is used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
More that 20 events on tap
LGBTQ2i+ comes just after Indigenous Awareness Weeks and the first event is a workshop with the Indigenous artist Smokii Sumac, entitled Love Poems For First Dates.
Speakers at the October 2 launch will include Brian Lewis, Professor of History and Classical Studies; Iain Blair, Administrative Officer at the Institute for the Study of International Development; Alanna Thain, Director of the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, and Associate Professor, Department of English; Eve Finley, Equity Facilitator at the Office of the Dean of Students; and Meryem Benslimane.
Benslimane says special thanks go out to Associate Provost Angela Campbell; Michael David Miller of the McGill Library; and Alanna Thain, of the IGSF.
Organizers are planning more than 20 events. The full schedule can be found on the LGBTQ+History Month webpage and the FaceBook page.
Here are some highlights of LGBTQ2I+ Month at McGill:
- The workshop Love Poems For First Dates, with the Two-Spirit Artist and Poet Smokii Sumac (in collaboration with IGSF), October 1, 12-2 p.m., at Ferrier 230;
- A screening of the documentary Ouvrir la Voix/Speak Up, (in collaboration with the Black Students Network) from french filmmaker Amandine Gay, October 3, 6-9 p.m., at McIntyre Medical Sciences Building, Room 522;
- Return of the Rainbow Homecoming Celebration, in collaboration with the Subcommittee on Queer People, and the Queer Grad Club, October 12, 4-7 p.m., at Thomson House;
- A screening of the documentary ABU by Pakistani filmmaker Arshad Khan (with a Q&A with the filmmaker), on October 22, 5:30-8:30 p.m., at Thomson House;
- Family Day (with Drag Queen Story Hour), October 28, 10-3 p.m., open to all, at La Citadelle;
- A conference by acclaimed musician, writer, visual artist and trans activist Vivek Shraya, entitled I’m afraid of men & other works, (in collaboration with IGSF), on October 30, 7-9 p.m., at Leacock 232.
The full schedule can be found online.