Get Real Western

I sat down with Tiffany Kriter, one of the co-coordinators of Get Real Western this year, to learn a little bit more about the neon pink hats I'd been seeing around campus. 

How did Get Real start?

Get Real started in 2011 at Western by four social science sophs. They had this idea of trying to promote a safe and inclusive environment on campus, especially within the soph program. They saw first years coming in with this language that they picked up in high school, slurs like, “that’s so gay,” “you’re a f*g,” and they wanted to try to eliminate that.

Right from the start, when first years get here, Get Real tries to erase the homophobic language on campus. They had this idea that they would have these pink hats, and they would sell them on campus, and try to promote that safe environment. If you walk around campus, you see people wearing the hats, and you know that they support the same ideas that you do.

One of their goals was to eventually go back into their high schools and talk to the kids about unlearning homophobic language and transphobic language, and they saw that as a future goal, and within a few years, they were in local high schools. Within five years, Get Real has spread to over 20 campuses across Canada and the United States. It’s pretty cool that it started here.

The main focus is on youth outreach and youth education with a focus on the power of language.

How many members do you have at Western?

We have an executive team of three people, under that there’s the ‘hype’ team—a promotions team—with 15-16 people. Then we have general members. They help with our photo and video campaigns, and there’s about 25 general members.

What events do you have planned this year?

We had our launch party on Friday to kick off our year. It created an environment where everyone feels safe, where they can come out and have a good time, and know that they’re in a safe, homophobia-free environment.

And we have our monthly hat days as well, where everyone who has a hat is asked to wear it, and then we meet up in the Spoke. This year we’re focusing on awareness campaigns and photo campaigns.

Does Get Real only help those who are LGBTQ?

I like to think of Get Real as a big GSA [Gay Straight Alliance], so we’re open to people obviously of the LGBT community, but also allies as well. It’s really anyone that wants to promote a safe and inclusive environment on campus, regardless of gender, sexuality, racial background or any type of stigmatized or stereotyped group, and just promoting inclusiveness for everyone. Get Real focuses on language use specifically with the LGBT community, but we also consider language in general, and making sure that the language that people use is inclusive for everyone.

Do you hold any fundraisers?

Every year we partner with Textbooks for Change, another nonprofit that started at Western. So we do a big, year-long textbook drive, and all the campuses that have a Get Real chapter also do the textbook drive. We also do smaller fundraisers, and all the proceeds from our hats and our merchandise goes back into the organization and helps us cover mostly travel costs, going to different schools across North America.

 

Check out The Get Real Movement here and like Get Real Western on Facebook