Welcome to our first installment of the Pink Pages Q&A, where we talk to interesting people doing interesting things. (We are thinking Q&A can stand for both “question and answer” or “queer and awesome.”)

Today’s Q&A is with NiQ Lavergne, who runs an online GLBTQ event’s calendar and the Victoria Lesbian Buddy Program, for which she was inducted into the Q Hall of fame in 2011.

Jes: What motivated you to start an online calendar and newsletter?

NiQ: My on-line GLBTQ calendar was the result of a gap I personally felt within the community; there were all of these queer events taking place all of town (Victoria) that I would hear about (usually after the fact!) but other than the posters at the local queer bars there wasn’t anywhere else to find out about them so creating a calendar seemed the most logical thing to do. I also didn’t want to ‘limit’ my calendar to just Victoria events so I made connections with other GLBTQ sites/communities in B.C. to help bridge that gap & encourage folk to go to events out of town. The newsletter progressed from the calendar; it’s basically a way of reminding folk that the information is out there; all they have to do is ‘click.’

Jes: I know keeping a calendar up to date takes a lot of time and
effort, what keeps you going after so many years?

NiQ: I actually don’t want to think about how many hours I’ve dedicated over the years on my site as I’d probably implode! However it’s a daily activity that I still enjoy after (scratches head…) almost five years (holy crap!) What keeps me going is my own motivation to be topical, up-to date with my events listings & the encouragement I receive from other community members. I’ve had real tear-jerking e-mails from women who have described me (in their own words) as their “life-line” to community & female company – it doesn’t get much better than that 🙂

Jes: Your calendar shifted from being just for lesbians to having events for the broader LGBTQ community. What inspired that change?

NiQ: A friend, whom I admired, asked me that very same question a couple of years ago which led me to change my site from a lesbian inclusive site to one that embraces the entire community. I recognized that the GLBTQ blanket wraps around an extremely diverse group of people, some of who’m still do not feel they ‘fit’ into the GLBTQ frame so who was I to make people feel outcast? I want EVERYONE to feel they relate & belong on my site.

Jes: How did the buddy program start? How can people get involved if they are interested?

NiQ: The Victoria Lesbian Buddy program was one of my proudest ventures. At its peak there were well over 200 members & sometimes as many as twelve activities taking place every month!!!!! It began in my living room brainstorming with a small group of friends about how we could incorporate everyday activities into bringing lesbians together (outside of the bar scene.) I think the first activity was a games night quickly followed by movie nights, BBQ’s, theatre nights – literally any activity – we even had a body casting night once!!!! I received a prestigious award from the Q Hall of Fame specifically in recognition of my work within the Buddy program.
When I left Victoria 2 years ago & moved to Vancouver the Buddy program’s activities waned & is now down to just one event, the Buddy book club that meets faithfully the fourth Wednesday each month. The Buddy Facebook page however continues to flourish with presently 201 members 🙂 ANYONE can host a Buddy event; they simply send me the info & I post it out to my private Buddy e-mail listing.

Jes: What are some of the strangest/most interesting events that you list on your calendar?

NiQ: Surprisingly they are few and far between. I would probably have to say I was initially a little shocked when I received a posting for naked men’s yoga 0:

Jes: What’s your favourite thing about Victoria’s queer community? What’s one thing you’d change?

NiQ: I would have to say my favourite thing about Victoria’s queer community is its faith & loyalty. There are some really hard working people out there keeping things ticking along within our community & I have great respect for such dedication. One thing I would change is likely a sore subject for many; I wish our community were more embracing of the trans community. Just before I left Victoria I was putting together ideas of how to better educate our community around transgender issues. Sadly I didn’t have the opportunity for those ideas to come to fruition but that is the one thing I would chance; more acceptance within our own community.

Jes: You’re going to a desert island and can take one food, one drink and one queer person. What do you pick?

NiQ: A desert island would be quite delightful as long as I had freshly baked bread, a gin & tonic and my amazing partner ‘Tides’. Then I could ‘rise’, ‘fall’ and ride the waves 🙂

If you have a suggestion for our next Q&A, leave it in the comments!