By CASSIDY FOULDS
Having a setting where people can be themselves is important, if not crucial. One crafty Kitchener group embraces that idea, putting their own creative spin on their weekly get-togethers.
Queercraft is one of the many groups that SPECTRUM, Waterloo Region’s LGBTQ services and community organization, has to offer. It’s an LGBTQ crafting group whose members do hands-on activities, from knitting and crocheting, to chainmail jewelry and something as simple as sketching with a pencil.
“There was a lot of interest. We actually started this club at Wolverine, which was a yarn shop that used to be on King Street,” said Sunna Murphy, Queercraft’s group leader. “There’s lots of knitting and crafting groups around, but I often find that I don’t really fit. A lot of the time they’re straight, married ladies who just had babies. You don’t have a lot of things in common with the kinds of people who go to them.”
Groups like Queercraft are helpful to LGBTQ members who might be struggling from anxieties, social barriers or their sexuality. Those who decide to drop in on the meetings have no obligation to delve into deep conversation. It’s a good stepping-stone to breaking down those barriers by befriending some members during meetings and, additionally, over the Queercraft Facebook group page.
“Once they build those relationships, the idea of coming to a support group is less intimidating,” Murphy said. “I think it’s really valuable to have those sorts of things because it allows us, especially when we’re isolated or new, to be able to have a social group or activity-based group, to be able to come and join in on something like that and to have that safe place to help reduce isolation.”
Conestoga College’s own LGBTQ club’s leader, Stephanie Oleson, also believes in LGBTQ safe spaces.
“The LGBTQ community still faces a lot of discrimination and hate,” said Oleson. “Some struggle religiously, emotionally and mentally. I think that these spaces are vital so that LGBTQ, friends and allies have somewhere to go when things don’t seem to be going right. Everyone wants to feel accepted. When we feel accepted, we become stronger. These spaces will slowly break discrimination.”
Oleson said LGBTQ safe spaces give people a chance to meet new people who are similar to themselves and to gain knowledge from those around them. For Murphy, having LGBTQ members organize these groups heightens the sense of importance in not feeling isolated.
Queercraft gathers every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at 283 Duke St. in west Kitchener, Unit 210. More information can be found at the Queercraft Facebook group, where updates and cancellations are posted.
A complete list of the groups that SPECTRUM offers can be found at ourspectrum.com. Some of the groups include ORG, the Outdoor Recreation Group, Trans Peer Support group, and a SPECTRUM Reading Circle.
“We’re a queer organization, we’re queer run, everyone on our board is queer or trans,” Murphy said. “It’s really important to us to have the space be one where people can come and just be. It’s a really simple thing, but it’s a really powerful one when you walk through the world with that sense of hesitation.”