I’m always looking to get involved in and support more on campus organizations, especially those that foster a positive environment throughout Queen’s and beyond. My housemate, who was attending a meeting for Get REAL, recently introduced me to one of these groups. Get REAL is dedicated to educating high school and middle students about the plethora of different sexualities and the uniqueness of each one. Browsing Get REAL’s Facebook page and website, I was impressed by their message and passion. As a movement that was created and is run solely by university students, Get REAL is a perfect example of students coming together for a cause and fighting to create a better, more tolerant campus and overall community. Their ultimate goal is to create tolerance and acceptance within schools, as well as raise awareness for the LGBTQ community.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the lovely Get REAL Coordinators here at Queen’s, Robyn Pearson and Devon Stride, to learn more about their involvement in this movement.
If you had to describe what Get REAL means to you in 1-2 sentences, what would it be?
Devon: “Get REAL provides kids an opportunity to realise that everyone is different in their own way, whether it is sexual or gender identity, we all have something that makes us unique. When you’re 13, you just want to fit in, so we give these kids the opportunity to accept whatever is unique about them.”
Why do you think it’s important for this to exist on campus?
Robyn: “It’s important on campus because although it’s 2015, everyone experiences some sort of discrimination every day. Even little positive ways to help reinvent that or change people’s perspectives is really important.”
How do Queen’s students get involved? What opportunities are there?
Robyn: “We have 2 main positions. The hype team is for people who want to be more active within Get REAL. We welcome it to everyone, but it’s more for people who want to participate and help in fundraising events. The whole point is to get like-minded people together to change language. The littlest way people can get involved is by being ambassadors on campus. Anyone who wants to be involved has to reflect [the values of Get REAL] in their daily lives — wear a hat or button, encompass what we believe in, and have accepting and inclusive language.”
What is the most rewarding experience you have had since getting involved?
Devon: “Going and doing presentations. Whenever a kid comes up to you after and shares something personal about them, it is the most rewarding thing. We did a presentation on campus for the ESU (Enrichment Studies Unit, where highschool and elementary school students come and learn at Queen’s) and one of the campers came up after. You could tell she was very nervous, but told us that she felt very validated in her identity after the presentation. As she was coming out to people, they were saying her feelings were wrong and didn’t exist. This was the first time someone said to her being asexual is a total valid identity, and she finally felt like she belonged.”
If you could predict the future, where would you ideally like Get REAL to be in 5 years?
Devon: “Having a Get REAL club on every Canadian university/college campus is a goal. We have our first club starting up in the States this year. The more opportunities there are to educate people, the less likely people will stereotype and judge. On Queen’s specifically, in 5 years I’d like to never hear things like, ‘That’s so gay,’ just walking down the street.”
Get REAL is hosting their launch party at 8:30pm tonight at The Brass Pub. It’s a great opportunity to get involved, show your support, and see what this movement is all about. Check out the event here.
If you want to get involved, don’t hesitate to email Get REAL at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message Robyn and/or Devon on Facebook.
Erez Zobary, Online Reviewer
Images: Get REAL Facebook page