With pride month right around the corner, events and shows celebrating and standing up for the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ are taking place across the region, but Cambridge is missing out on some of these events.
Over the past year, Spectrum, a 2SLGBTQ+ advocacy group and non-profit organization have been holding events in Cambridge, but the number of physical spaces is limited.
“Our head office is located in downtown Kitchener. That is a barrier, especially for some folks from Cambridge that travel,” said Scott Williams, executive director for Spectrum.
Williams has been looking for partners in Cambridge to help facilitate events and meet-ups, but he thinks the community here is still underrepresented.
Recently they have partnered with the Idea Exchange to host events for youths like arts and crafts and they host a bi-weekly transgender peer support group that's specifically for Cambridge and North Dumfries.
In Kitchener and Waterloo, Spectrum is able to host many events like drag nights, sport drop-ins and dances. Williams said events like these are so important because there aren’t many 2SLGBTQ+ bars or spaces left in the region.
The closure of these spaces and bars is one of the reasons Spectrum was started back in 2012 as a spin off from the Rainbow Coalition of Waterloo region.
“It was a small group that was really dedicated to finding or creating a physical space because at that time, all of the all of the local queer bars and queer owned coffee shops and things had closed or were closing,” said Williams. “So there were really no physical spaces.”
After building up the community in Kitchener and Waterloo, Spectrum is starting to advocate for more of these queer friendly spaces in Cambridge by continuing to reach out to partners in the city.
Williams thinks there is still much more ground to be made when it comes to making members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community feel safe and accepted. He points to education being the most important factor when it comes to closing this gap.
“When you know more about the community or meet someone in it, it shows you we are all the same and allows you to be more understanding and compassionate towards them,” he said.
A recent appearance by Jordan Peterson at Kitchener's Centre In The Square was met with criticism from Williams.
“We know in our community there's a lot of transphobia, like from the Jordan Peterson event that happened this week and similar things that are happening in schools,” said Williams. “One of the areas that we really need to do more work in is for transgender and non-binary folks. Legally, legislatively, they're probably 20 years behind where the LGB folks are.”
Spectrum has been working with the city of Cambridge’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Services to collaborate on setting up events and building a safe community in Cambridge.
“The city has been really helpful in finding spaces for us, I think the work is happening. We're starting to make it happen,” said Williams.