By Sarah Nathanson
Hey, LGBTQ+ students of New College: there’s an amazing new club in town, and it’s the New College Queer Collective (NCQC). It’s been a while since we’ve heard from a NEW group of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Other) students — New Pride, NCQC’s predecessor, was dissolved because of lack of incoming leadership (previous New Pride leaders moving on to LGBTout, U of T’s ever wonderful campus queer club). Yet with NEW’s focus on equity and gender studies and the vibrant queer community that calls New College home, there was the need for a more intimate college group. Luckily for all of us, residence dons Sarina Iannelli and Gillan Latour rose to the occasion. They created a group for all NEW LGBTQ+ students (even commuters) to meet once a month, eat some snacks, play some board games and enjoy a relaxing night in with the community.
We’re Here, We’re Queer, and We’re Ready to Play (Board Games)
Picture this: it’s a chilly January night, and you walk into one of the rooms off Wilson lounge, looking for a group of people you hope to fit in with immediately. You’re nervous, a little apprehensive, but once you’re in the right room, you’ll have found a comfortable space to go every month. Maybe you’ll have enough in common with the group to ease that initial social anxiety. You take a deep breath to steady yourself, open the door and are greeted with a warm atmosphere — not just because of the winter heaters, but from the magnetically friendly energy that permeates the air. There are smiles all around, introductions by the dons and enough cookies to keep you going for a very long time.
This is NCQC, and I’m not exaggerating when I highlight the warmth of community. If you’re a queer first-year student looking for a community, this is the place to start. If you’re only just coming out to yourself in your fifth year at U of T, the same applies. Along with monthly meetings, the group works to refer queer students to similar collectives on campus, queer-positive events and other resources that might be helpful.
Iannelli and Latour revamped New College’s queer collective because the aspect of community in their college felt so important to them. Officially, this initiative was part of their jobs as residence dons, but it quickly took on more meaning as it reminded them of groups that had supported them as younger students.
Latour, specifically, stressed how much NCQC means to him. It allows him to participate in queer students’ lives in a way that he experienced when he was younger. Latour is a transfer student who began his university experience at King’s University College (“King’s”) in Halifax. As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, he found a huge amount of support and love at King’s Pride (King’s LGBTQ+ group). This experience highlighted the importance of queer collectives on university campuses for Latour, and so he works hard alongside Iannelli to cultivate a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere in NCQC.
As a queer student myself, I’m incredibly thankful for the friendships and community that I’ve built through my involvement with campus groups like
NCQC. Finding your place in a large university can be difficult, and involving yourself in initiatives like this is one of the ways you can do so. Don’t sleep on NCQC, friends! They’re here for you.