In the fall of 2019, Red Dress Productions worked with Marc Garneau Collegiate’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance Club (GSAC) to create the Project Love mosaic. The 12 x 4 foot ceramic and glass mural was created in collaboration with the collegiate’s students to bring visibility to LGBTQ students.
“More than 40 students from the GSA and the school’s art council contributed to designing and building this mosaic, which will be installed in one of the busiest corridors of the school,” says Tristan R. Whiston, artistic co-director. “We hope this will help create a sense of welcome to queer youth in the school.”
Unveiled on Thursday, February 13th, teacher and GSAC supervisor, Scott Pearce had this to say about the project: “The school climate for queer and trans students has improved, but there’s still a way to go. Students are still teased and harassed because of their sexual orientation or because they don’t fit into gender stereotypes.
“Some students who may have wanted to participate in this project, stayed away for fear that their friends or family will find out. In Canada in 2020, it’s still not easy being a teenager who’s queer or trans.
“This is why Project Love is so important. We made a big artwork that sends a powerful message to the entire school that gay and trans students are welcome here.
“Every day I walk by this mosaic, my spirit will be lifted a little,” reflects Pearce. “I like to think that the spirit of everyone at this school who is queer or trans, or who has a loved one who is queer or trans, will be lifted when they walk by this mosaic.”
“I’m president of the Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) at Garneau. We’re a small club since we restarted it a couple years ago, with the aim of creating a safe and welcoming space in a school where homophobic attitudes are common in the student population.
So it started in a single classroom in the school where everyone was welcome, whether they wanted to have a conversations or watch gay movies or simply be in a space they knew they’d be accepted for who they are, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Around this time last year, we started to consider our impact outside of the GSA and on the rest of the school. We planned an initiative called Project Love in order to extend the welcoming atmosphere past one small space and to the rest of the school.
Our goals with this project were to encourage conversation and fight the stigma of LGBTQ+ issues and also promote LGBTQ+ visibility.
Obviously LGBTQ+ themed artwork literally embedded into the infrastructure of the school does a lot for promoting visibility. It’s stunning, and it’s a beautifully simple message that’s very accessible and easy to understand.
But I think most importantly it sends the message that everyone is welcome at Garneau. I know that personally I didn’t think I’d be welcome in my own home if I made my identity known. Eventually I did and my mother describes my coming out as a “bomb.”
It’s a little unsettling that declaring who I am or who I love should be described as a weapon that kills people. I can’t even say that I’ve completely come to terms with it myself yet — I struggle with internalized homophobia.
But even though I don’t always feel welcome at home or within myself, I have Garneau and the community we’ve built through the GSA. And so I hope that students will see the mosaic in the school every day and feel at home.
I hope that students who identify as LGBTQ+, and perhaps aren’t out yet, or haven’t yet come to terms with their identity, see our mosaic and know that they’ll be welcome here.”
President, Gender & Sexuality Alliance
Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute