Professor Peter Grevstad Hosts Sheridan’s Inaugural Pride Reads!

By Peter Grevstad

In 2022 I completed a doctorate with the University of Toronto. My work focuses on the school experiences of LGBTQ+ students in a community college. Part of what I did was an environmental scan for Queer Presence across all of the 24 colleges in Ontario, and in the scan looked at Queer Presence across three domains: the local community, the college and its campus services and campus climate, and particularly Queer Presence at the level of curriculum. At the time, I realised that no college offered a course in Queer Studies, many opting instead for a Human Sexuality online offering from Ontario Learns. There was, clearly, a gap, and I intended to address it. Therefore, I designed a course in LGBTQ+ Studies for my dissertation, a course which I’ve been teaching since early 2023. Very pleased to say that that’s going well.

I was recently asked what I’d like to do with complimentary hours on my current SWF, so I suggested a Pride Reads reading series. I was of course inspired by the Sheridan Reads events, but wanted to do something which helps to raise the profile of Queer writing in Canada in our community. I was delighted to be invited to do so.

I’ve been working with Cormorant Press in Toronto, as well as House of Anansi/Groundwood Books, and also with HarperCollins Canada. I’m working with editors, publishers, and publicists, and I have identified four authors whose work we would like to feature and discuss initially, one per semester going forward.

We started with a memoir by Ruby Remenda Swanson, called A Family Outing. This work addresses how Ruby and her family experience their son coming out at age 16, his activism at school and in the community, and the family’s gradual engagement with LGBTQ+ youth agencies and PFLAG as a way to support not just their son, but also the Queer communities in Edmonton, AB. This work is important, especially considering legislative changes around human sexuality, gender expression, and youth in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, legislation which prohibits pronoun use, limits trans-affirming medical treatments, and effectively outs gender-diverse youth to their parents, whether the youth are ready or not. It also tells the story of identity formation, and coming out, from the perspective of a parent. When youth come out, their parents, eventually, must too.  The most wonderful part of this memoir is that the Swansons embrace their gender-diverse son, who was successful in school, and who went on to higher education and an adult life in Ontario. Parents need to read this. As do those who are still considering coming out, but who may be reluctant to do so, believing there will be no support.

Our first event came together quickly: I had incredible support from Marketing and Communications at Sheridan, from the Special Events Office, and from the SSU. Everyone has asked how they can help, and they did so eagerly. I am more than elated about this. We launched this event 21 March, 2024, and plan to have one event each semester going forward. Our first event was virtual, and future events will be live.

Please join us to learn more about diverse literary voices in this semester, and every semester for the foreseeable future.

Update: check out a video of the event here!