Throughout our history OUTSaskatoon has had multiple locations and name-changes, but our goal has always stayed the same: to tirelessly work toward increasing the acceptance and visibility of Saskatchewan’s 2SLGBTQ people. We do this through reaching new and varied community partners, businesses, and organizations in the provision of support services, education, housing, events, and programming. In all that we do, we work to improve the lives of the 2SLGBTQ community.
A Short OVerview
OUTSaskatoon began as Gay & Lesbian Health Services (GLHS) in 1991. By the will and the way of Dr. Sheri McConnell and 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 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. In 2008, a relocation 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 2SLGBTQ 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 of directors elected to change the name of the centre to OUTSaskatoon in order to increase visibility and take a brave step "OUT" into the larger community. Around the same time, OUTSaskatoon started to look into housing needs for 2SLGBTQ and ultimately opened Pride Home in January 2017. Pride Home houses up to six 2SLGBTQ youth ages 16-21 and provides a supported independent living through a holistic, youth-centred philosophy. Over the years, OUTSaskatoon expanded to the entire top floor of the Habitat for Humanity building to support thousands of people who use our drop-in services, access our social and support groups, and receive education and diversity training. With all of this growth, we relocated to 213 Ave C S in August of 2019. Just a short 140 meters away, the new location is double the size and street front for the very first time in OUTSaskatoon's history.
The collection contains unique items and special collections dealing with the history and literature of sexual and gender diversity.
An exhibit by the Diefenbaker Canada Centre in partnership with the USSU Pride Centre.
Two Spirit, Indigenous Queer and Trans people have always existed here in Saskatchewan and across Turtle Island (Canada), however current written documentation has almost exclusively been curated by white settler LGBT people. OUTSaskatoon is now prioritizing archiving stories, items, articles, event materials and more that capture the historical and modern day experiences and realities of Two Spirit and Indigenous Queer and Trans people.
Saskatoon Gay Action and The Gay Students Alliance
- In 1971 gay activists Gens Hellquist and Dan Nahlbach placed an ad in the Georgia Straight, an alternative newspaper based in Vancouver that discussed gay rights issues. The ad was only one line asking interested readers to get in touch. A handful of men and one woman responded to the ad, and in 1971 two gay organizations formed in Saskatoon: Saskatoon Gay Action (SGA) and The Gay Students Alliance.
The Zodiac Friendship Society
- While SGA’s activist work was important, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community also wanted a space to socialize. In 1972, a second organization called the Zodiac Friendship Society (ZFS) was created.
The Gay Community Centre of Saskatoon
- The partnership between SGA and the ZFS continued until 1975, when the two organizations officially combined to create the Gay Community Centre of Saskatoon (GCCS). The GCCS continued hosting social events and organizing activist efforts while also providing education, counseling, and aid services to its members.
- In 1978 the Saskatchewan Gay Coalition (SGC) was formed for the purpose of doing outreach to the rural communities of Saskatchewan. Activist Doug Wilson traveled around Saskatchewan’s rural communities to connect with LGBTQ2S+ people living there.
Gay and Lesbian Support Services
- Activist Gens Hellquist was becoming concerned that the GCCS was too focused on socializing. As a reaction, he formed Gay and Lesbian Support Services (GLSS) in 1980. GLSS provided counseling, a phone line, and self-help groups. Due to lack of funding, burnout, and interpersonal conflicts amongst directors, the GCCS closed in 1982.
Gay and Lesbian Health Services
- Despite GLSS closing in 1982, Gens Hellquist continued fighting to create space for the community and in 1991 he teamed up with Dr. Sheri McConnell to form Gay and Lesbian Health Services(GLHS) in November of 1991.
Saskatoon Diversity Network is created
- GHLS helped in the formation of the Saskatoon Diversity Network (SDN). Prior to the formation of the SDN, GLHS was the main organizer of Pride celebrations in Saskatoon.
GLHS to ACC
- GLHS Changed its name to Avenue Community Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity in order to have a name that included more identity groups.
- In 2008 the ACC moved to 21st St West in Riversdale, into the Habitat for Humanity Building. This space offered a much larger space for offices, drop-in, and group meetings
Name Change to OUTSaskatoon
- The board of directors elected to change the name of the centre to OUTSaskatoon in order to increase visibility and take a brave step "OUT" into the larger community.
Two Spirit Round Dance
- In collaboration with Two Spirit community members OUTSaskatoon hosts our first annual Two Spirit Round Dance at the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre.
Two Spirit Gathering
- Under the leadership of Two Spirit Elder, Marjorie Beaucage, OUTSaskatoon hosts the annual international Two Spirit Gathering at Batoche
First Federal Grant
- In 2016 OUTSaskatoon secured our first multi-year federal grant for the SHOUT Project, a joint endeavour between OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Sexual Health. The SHOUT Project is a culturally informed youth-focused sexual health project.
Pride Home Opens
- OUTSaskatoon started to look into housing needs for 2SLGBTQ and ultimately opened Pride Home in January 2017. Pride Home houses up to six 2SLGBTQ youth ages 16-21 and provides a supported independent living through a holistic, youth-centred philosophy.
Two Spirit Powwow
- In collaboration with Two Spirit community members OUTSaskatoon hosts the first documented Two Spirit Powwow in Saskatchewan
1 Million Dollar Federal Grant
- In 2018 OUTSaskatoon secured two federal grants, totalling $1.1 million dollars, to launch educational and support services addressing gender based violence.
Moved to our current location
- With all of this growth, we relocated to 213 Ave C S in August of 2019. Just a short 140 meters away, the new location is double the size of our past location and gave us street front access for the very first time in OUTSaskatoon's history. We also share this location with our close organizational partner, Saskatoon Sexual Health.