Queer Active launches to empower youth
Creating more queer-friendly community spaces and events “that don't just revolve around the bars” is “a really good thing”, according to the NDP's Spencer Chandra Herbert.
The gay MLA, who represents Vancouver–West End, was referring to a new nonprofit called Queer Active. The organization will focus on healthy activities that help youth feel safely out and don't just revolve around going to bars.
“Instead of lifting up a beer can, if you can lift up a badminton racket, maybe you will live longer, I don't know,” Chandra Herbert, a long-time lover of sports, especially baseball, told the Straight by phone from his downtown office.
Speaking as the Straight went to press on June 13, Queer Active's incoming president, Tracey Williams, was gearing up for the group's coming out party that night downtown. Williams, a former board member of Team Vancouver, said her previous organization will coexist with Queer Active, adding that Team Vancouver's role was “minimal anyways”.
“Just every couple or three years, we'd send people [and] uniform orders out and get them organized to go off to either the Gay or Out Games, wherever they may be, billeting and maybe organizing a function at the event,” Williams said by phone. “So, we really decided that we needed to be more relevant to the community as a whole, and we thought there wasn't a lot available for the youth in our community, steering them toward sport and fitness and a healthy lifestyle.”
Chandra Herbert said he'd looked at Queer Active's website and found it “intriguing”.
“I'm interested in how they will network with Gab Youth Services, which provides social space and more informal sports and things like that,” he said. “They put on dances and they do a whole bunch of things for queer youth. I hope that they can provide more support and work with youth in a way that, I guess, harmonizes with the good work Gab is doing.”
Ideally, queer youth can play on any sports team in the city and feel safe doing that, added Chandra Herbert, “and certainly many queer youth do”.
“However, a good number don't, and kind of want that social space where it's less critical of who they are, or they just feel that they can be out in a real way,” he added. “For some people, they will go and do that on a [queer-oriented] team for a little while, and then go and join other teams, more ‘mixed teams', where you've got queer and straight people and bi people and people who don't know and don't care.”