The radical side of the rainbow

The Radically Outrageous Queer Collective fights for rights for STU’s LGBTQ community

Craig Mazerolle (Tom Bateman/AQ)
Craig Mazerolle (Tom Bateman/AQ)

They’re here, they’re queer, and they don’t want you to get used to it.

They want you to accept it.

The Radically Outrageous Queer Collective kicked off it’s inaugural meeting last Wednesday evening in James Dunn Hall. The group is different from other on-campus LGBTQ groups like SPECTRUM. They are not just about support for queer students. ROQC (pronounced “rock”) is about change.

“I want to promote a safe space, create a community, and continue a real presence here at St Thomas,” organizer Craig Mazerolle said. “We have an awesome queer community here, but I’m looking to break us out of our comfort zone.”

ROQC’s first meeting felt more like a gathering of friends than a meeting of radicals. With playful music playing on small speakers in the background, a dozen excited and chattering St Thomas students sat down to work on creating what Mazerolle called an ‘easy-going, casual, but pleasantly passionate movement.’

Mazerolle, an energetic fourth year psychology major at STU, talked for almost an hour about creating a true presence for the queer community, through activism and education.

“There are quite a few things I think we can address. I can’t donate blood, and that something I feel that we can creatively protest,” Mazerolle said.

Currently in Canada, gay men are barred from being able to donate blood. Canadian Blood Services has had the ban in place since the early ‘80’s, when it was impossible to accurately screen donated blood for HIV. Now that technology has advanced, donations are screened for any and all complications. Unfortunately homosexual men are still turned away from blood donation clinics, like the one held at STU last Thursday. In Mazerolle’s opinion the rules for screening blood donation are archaic and something he is keen on changing.

“As of right now, if I lied about being gay and did donate, I’d be charged,” Mazerolle said.

Another goal for the group is to integrate the gay community in Fredericton with the straight community.

“It is perfectly normal to see two guys dancing together at Boom,” Mazerolle said. “I want to make it perfectly normal for two guys to dance together at, say, the Irock.”

First year student Derrick Biso attended Wednesday’s meeting and was delighted that a group like ROQC exists at STU.

“My school in Charlottetown never had a group like this,” he said. “Coming to St. Thomas and finding a strong queer population was a secret bonus.”

The importance of groups like ROQC couldn’t be understated by Biso, who said that people need to see gay and transgendered individuals as being human above all else.

“I’m loud and proud, but I’m also activist for human rights and making changes. In that sense I feel that this group is important.”

The discussion wasn’t all serious. Fun activities like Fantasia parties geared towards the queer community were suggested, as well as the construction of “snowmosexuals”- a different take on the traditional snowman. The group is focused on coinciding these and other activities with the upcoming STUSU sexual awareness week taking place Feb. 14-21.

Although this was the first meeting for ROQC at STU this year, it has had a presence on campus before. Mazerolle explained that the Radically Outrageous Queer Committee began as the brain-child of several students two years ago at STU.

“We had a great atmosphere in this committee before, but the founding members were mostly made up of fourth students who graduated.”

Despite originally finding success the group lacked momentum and failed to take off last year. This is something that Mazerolle is looking to overcome.

“There was so much passion before and I want to extend that. My dream is to continue on a real presence and make this organization self-sustaining, we just need to get the ball rolling.”

ROQC will meet every Wednesday at 5:30 in room G2 at James Dunn Hall.

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