Raising the Hammer: UNIQORN Coffee House


Welcome to the ‘Raising the Hammer’, a series spotlight local grassroots initiatives and organizations working towards creating a more inclusive Hamilton.

The first ‘Raising the Hammer’ article features UNIQORN Coffee House, an initiative working to create accessible spaces for LGBTQ+ identified youth and young adults in the greater Hamilton area.

Finding and accessing support can often be a challenge for youth. For LGBTQ+ youth, the intersection of socio-economic barriers and social barriers such as accepting environments free of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia can make this even more difficult to access.

In Hamilton in particular, there is a large gap within services for LGBTQ+ people, particularly youth since the loss of The Well, Hamilton’s LGBTQ+ Centre. Many LGBTQ+ friendly organizations have tried to fill the gap by modifying programming to create greater inclusion of LGBTQ+ youth. However there are few safe and accessible spaces focused on serving the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in Hamilton.

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NGen for youth, located inside New Visions Church in downtown Hamilton, is one of the agencies attempting to fill the gap in services for LGBTQ+ youth

UNIQORN Coffee House, a monthly coffee night for LGBTQ+ youth & young adults in the greater Hamilton area attempts to address the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in our city, in particular focusing on creating safe, accessible and sustainable spaces.

The events are entirely free and open to the public, which are geared to the focus of LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, including students.  The coffee nights provide free coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages and baked goods. Youth and students coming to this coffee night have the opportunity to build community through shared experiences and interests from music to board games and arts & crafts nights to movie nights. UNIQORN Coffee House attempts to break down other barriers to accessing this service that often intersect for LGBTQ+ youth, such as providing free bus tickets for those in need, creating accessible and barrier free spaces, and  gender-neutral washrooms. Volunteers are available to assist those that may be struggling with mental health, such as anxiety or depression.

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Anna Irving, the think tank behind this initiative reflects on how UNIQORN Coffee House came to be and why it is an important space for both the Hamilton community and students from the McMaster looking to get involved outside the bubble!

“The recognition of this need has come as a result of hearing the request for a nonsexualized, safe, social space voiced by queer youth at the community consultations held from January-March by the SPRC. We would welcome the attendance and input of any LGBTQIA2+ youths in the Hamilton and Dundas areas to help make these events great. Moreover, our priority is to make these events sustainable and a source of not only fun, but stability. I think we all know that a few words of encouragement and a cup of coffee can often make a world of difference and plant a seed of hope in someone’s life. It is this sense of community that we are hoping to foster through these events. For too long we have remained stagnate and fragmented within our own communities, so why not show up and show out for our youth.. and why not have a little fun while we’re at it?”

Those involved running UNIQORN Coffeehouse alongside Anna are graduate students from McMaster. This is just one prime example of the commitment to community engagement that McMaster students have in the Hamilton community. As many of us are struggling students, this is a helpful service to access, as well as support both our LGBTQ+ identified students, as well as our city’s LGBTQ+ youth.

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If you are interested in getting involved with UNIQORN Coffeehouse, you can come out and support this community and initiative by swing by a coffee night –taking place on Thursday, November 10 from 7-10pm at the Carnegie Gallery: 10 King St. W, Dundas.

For more information and updates, like their facebook page: Uniqorn Coffee House or follow their Instagram @uniqorncoffeehouse

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