A Degrassi star showed her support for the fourth annual UTM Pride Week.
Annie Clark, a star of Degrassi: The Next Generation, headlined the workshop on Wednesday, titled “Queers in the Media: Creating and Representing”. This
event was part of a week-long event by the LGTBQ community and its allies.
The theme this year was “queer leaders of tomorrow” and included various workshops and guest speakers, including the Winter Meet and Greet, the Homohop, the Pride Launch, Queers in the
Media, Queer Writing 101, and the Coming Out workshop.
The event was a joint project between several groups, including OUT@UTM, UTMSU, the UTM Sexual Education
Centre, St. George’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Office, and the Ian Orchard Student Initiatives Fund.
Yasmine Youssef, UTMSU’s VP equity, attended the workshop on Wednesday and
commented in an email that it was one of the best-attended events of the week. It was also an opportunity for students to speak to their role models in person. In addition to Annie Clark, a publicist and
a writer from the show were also present.
“We are a campus built on diversity, inclusion, and equity, but also responsible for fostering a positive space for varied forms of gender expression,
sexual orientations, and gender equality,” Justin Hanif, the LGBTQ coordinator of UTMSU, said via email. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend much, but I did get to attend the Pride Launch, which was a showcase of local queer artists’ work. It was really well done, and I was impressed at how bold and visible it was. It’s not often you get to walk into the CCT atrium and see it filled unabashedly with rainbows,” said James Boutilier, a fifth-year environmental management and biology student. “On the week as a whole, I think Justin Hanif and UTMSU did a really amazing job. The events were really diverse [and] educational, and went beyond being just stereotypically queer.”
Kumari Giles, who organized the first Pride Week four years ago, gave a workshop called “The Stories of Our Lives: Storytelling through Movement”.
“In university we have institutionalized learning and never get to share what your own personal story might be,” she said. “Marginalized stories don’t have space in mainstream representation, and the workshop today gives those people a chance to have the space to share their story.”
She commented on the difference between Pride Week now and when she started it.
“Some things have stayed the same, like having events every day and having workshops, but it changes every year based on the students,” she said. “It is student-led and student-driven, and every year it changes based on the students that are there and what the needs are. But I am glad that Pride Week is still happening. I hope it continues to happen and listens to the needs of the students.”