'Allow us to be 100 per cent ourselves': Events creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ community

Waterloo Region's last LGBTQ+ bar shut down in 2017, and there hasn't been a similar place in the community since where members of the local LGBTQ+ community feel they can connect, celebrate and share.

The lack of options and a desire to create change prompted Reba Joy to launch into action.

“Dyke Bar Takeover is a group of passionate folks that are here to create space for trans, non-binary, women-identified queers and also just to promote support within the community,” said

Joy, the creator of DBTKW.

The idea behind it was to have different venues around the region to host a variety of events, instead of just one central location

“I think it's important to have these intersectional spaces and making sure inclusiveness comes first. We don't want anyone to feel excluded,” said Joy.

“This like takes over spaces to make us feel safe, and just more than safe just allow us to be 100 per cent ourselves,” said Maya Jones, volunteer coordinator with DBTKW.

Joy said when they launched their Instagram account back in August, they were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community wanting to help them provide safe spaces.

“There’s nothing like it and we're kind of honoured to be able to help support it. It's also one of those instances where you lead by example, so I think as more folks see this initiative come to fruition it will help other things that are similar come up,” said Amit Mehta, founder of Good Company Productions set to collaborate with DBTKW in 2021. 

“I’m a queer person of colour so I identify with the group. There’s a big need in the community for queer spaces, for us to take up space, so that's what we're here to do," said Des Gagliardi, a volunteer with DBTKW.

Due to the pandemic, their first event will be held virtually in early October.

The hope is to keep the events happening monthly, with in-person events hopefully set to take place in 2021.