Jessica Newman found it hard to live a lie.
But when she did come out as gay she found strength in the support from her friends and family.
“The best feeling in the world is being able to live the life you want to live. Being able to feel free and feel that freedom to love who you want to love. Live your life in acceptance and love,” said Newman, 20, a graduate from Visions Hair & Esthetics Academy Inc. in Newmarket.
“And when you have your friends and family standing there with you, supporting you, nothing is better.”
Support at Humber incorporates inclusive or all-gender washrooms, the newest edition to the Learning Resources Commons at North campus, together with a LGBTQ+ Resource Centre. The Humber Gender and Sexual Diversity Committee and many others advocate both.
The committee said it hopes to create an inclusive campus community LGBTTIQQ2S, which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgendered, and intersexual, queer, questioning and 2-spirited identifying individuals respectively.
Newman is one who agrees with the push for the change. She said she identifies as a lesbian and considers herself a part of and also an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
“It allows kids to know it is okay to be themselves and they don’t have to try and ‘fit in,’” Newman said.
Newman said this change to include all-gender washrooms and more resources such as the new resource centre, a small office and meeting place at North, will be positive. It will make those who don’t feel like they can identify as male or female as well as other students feel safe and comfortable, she said.
She also said she hopes that by bringing in more resources, bullying will go down and will essentially help a person find their identity. Even to people who are not directly affected by this change will learn something about awareness, understanding and not judging one another, Newman added.
Sabrina Schmid, a Humber fashion arts student, said pushing for a more inclusive and safe school environment is important. Specifically, she said bringing awareness and educating all students here in the Humber community is crucial, especially because we have such a large population. Schmid said it is important for all students to be aware and have a safe and inclusive school environment.
Maureen Carnegie, co-chair of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Committee, said the LGBTQ+ community has made significant strides towards a more positive and inclusive society, but there are still people who experience discrimination.
The opening of the centre as well as future endeavours in unison with the LGBTQ+ community will provide a safe space to celebrate a student’s identity, she said.
Carnegie said she stresses the importance of living authentically and encourages those who have not yet embraced their identity fully to connect with other queer people.
From a personal perspective, Carnegie said she knew from a very young age she was attracted to women but led a “straight” life, married to a man, up until about she was 30.
“I just never felt or thought that it would be possible to live as a lesbian,” she said. “I didn’t think that it would be possible for someone like me to, you know, have a reasonable life that way.”
When she was in high school she had never met an openly gay person, but today there are many people who are, Carnegie said.
She said Canadians understand that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is not an abnormality but simply occupying a place on the sexual orientation spectrum.