Peak Project

For my group’s peak project this semester we were tasked with making A Queer History of Concordia. I was initially kind of worried about taking on this topic. I am not part of the LGBTQ+ community and I almost felt not allowed to take on this topic because it is not my story to tell. I got over this relatively quickly because I am friends with people in the LGBTQ+ community and it is something that I do feel strongly about even though it does not really affect me personally.

For our project, we decided it would be best to make a timeline of major events of LGBTQ+ supportive groups on Concordia’s campus throughout the last 50 or so years. My task in the project was to make the website and learn how Timeline.js worked. Timeline.js was the software that we used for the project. It was appealing to us because it was free mainly, but it was also open source. This was really cool for me as I have experience in coding JavaScript and making websites so if needed, I could go into the code and change things if needed. This was something that I was looking into at first but ultimately decided against because the normal timeline functions seemed good enough for what we needed for this project. I started helping with some supplemental research for the group just to help to make the process go a little smoother as I expected that making the site and timeline would not be that big of an undertaking. Then we lost a group member in the middle of working on our project. It felt like a lot of their work was then put on me to help with the research. It was still manageable, and I feel like the project ended up about as good as we could make it with what we had.

As mentioned before the main thing that I was tasked with was making the website. For the project, we made a Weebly site as it is what the archives have used for projects like this in the past. Weebly made it very easy for me to make the website as there are templates that you can just drag and drop things into. This allowed me to easily make an aesthetically pleasing website. Something that I used throughout that was very helpful was GIMP. GIMP is basically a free version of Photoshop. I used it to edit picture sizes so that they would fit better on our website. I also used Canva to make the logo for our site assisted by GIMP to take out the background to make it fit our site better. I really enjoyed using Weebly over something like WordPress because it was much easier to make a better-looking site. I feel like the templates are just better and the blocks that you can put into the site are more useful. The other thing that was the MVP for me for the project was snipping tool. It was the tool that I used the most throughout the project. Whether that was for grabbing images to make the logo or getting images for the timeline.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about this project was learning about the history of the LGBTQ+ community at Concordia. There was much more than we could have added to the project. Something that I wish we could have done was go and find some of these people that had written these articles for the Concordian and interview them on what it was like on campus for the LGBTQ+ community at the time. One article that stood out to me a lot was the first one that we had on our timeline for the early 1970s about an anonymous student saying that homosexuals are people too. This was a heartbreaking article to read because this person felt disgusted for being who they were. This is such a large difference from how it is on campus today, where most people are completely accepting and supportive of people in the community. It was also really interesting to see how the organizations evolved throughout the years.

The organizations on campus have been present for almost as long as this has been an issue and they have had many controversies. The research that I mainly did once I started to research was on groups like FLAG or Friends of Lesbians and Gays and SAGA or originally Straight and Gay Alliance but not the Sexuality and Gender Alliance. I found it super interesting that FLAG turned into SAGA and how there has mainly been one group on campus for LGBTQ+ students on campus for the last 30 years.  We mainly used articles from the Concordian for our research as we felt that that would give the best student opinions on this subject at any given point in time. There are things that we found hints of throughout some of the articles that we could not find enough about in other articles that would be really interesting to look into through other sources like personal interviews. Some things that fall under this are something that we found mentioning that SAGA was not meeting for an amount of time during the late 2000s. We just found this mentioned in one article and could not see any hint of it anywhere else in the Concordian archives. Another thing that would have been very interesting to learn more about was when SAGA changed its name from the Straight and Gay Alliance to the Sexuality and Gender Alliance. There is not any article mentioning the change except one from 2020 mentioning that in an interview with a faculty advisor for SAGA saying that they are very happy with the name change. From what I could find it was likely in 2013 because of what articles were calling it around this time.

Overall I really enjoyed working on the project and found the topic much more interesting than I thought I would have originally. I learned a lot more than I expected to and there was much more history to this than I thought there would be.

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