A History of Change
OUTSaskatoon began as Gay & Lesbian Health Services (GLHS) in 1991. By the will and the way of Gens Hellquist, GLHS was created to address the mental, social, emotional, and physical health needs of gay men and lesbians in Saskatchewan. GLHS’s first two employees—Gens Hellquist and Sheri McConnell—worked half-time and offered a peer support phone line, educational information and resources, and facilitated a variety of support/social groups, all of which remain important elements of our programming today.
In 2005, GLHS changed its name to The Avenue Community Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity in order to better reflect the wide communities that it served, and in homage to its location in the Avenue Building on 3rd Avenue. A relocation in 2008 to 21st St West in Riversdale, offered a much larger space for offices, drop-in, and group meetings, to better serve the growing number of people accessing services, as well as a growing staff. Over the next seven years, The Avenue Community Centre worked to support the growing and changing LGBTQ2S+ community through increased education services, the addition of a sexual health clinic, a responsive and expanding list of social support groups, and an increased public presence in the province.
In April 2015, the board, staff, and volunteers decided to take yet another step toward greater visibility. Following focus groups, surveys, and a consensus decision, they changed the name of the centre to OUTSaskatoon. Throughout the last 26 years, whether as GLHS, the Avenue Community Centre, or OUTSaskatoon, the Centre has played an important role in LGBTQ2S+ research and advocacy in the province. Its employees, volunteers, and board members have worked at grassroots, municipal, provincial, and federal levels in order to reduce the effects of homophobia/transphobia in our communities. Today, OUTSaskatoon has 10 full time staff, who work tirelessly toward increasing the acceptance and visibility of Saskatchewan’s LGBTQ2S+ people, as well as to reaching new and varied community partners, businesses, and organizations in the provision of support services, education, events, and programming.
For more information about the history of Gender & Sexual Diversity in Saskatchewan, check out the following resources: