For years, Q Nightclub and Lounge operated in secret due to fear of harassment. Now, with the club proudly operating on Broad Street, the Gay and Lesbian Community of Regina (GLCR) is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Cory Oxelgren is the president of GLCR. He said when he joined the community in the mid-90s, the club was in an industrial area and had no signs, no lights and boarded-up front windows.
"It was underground. There was a fear of being attacked," he said, "Once there was a group of us, [we] decided maybe we should try and spruce this place up."
Oxelgren said he clearly remembers a board meeting where there was a discussion about taking the boards off the windows.
"We talked about this for the longest time, about options. Should we put on bulletproof type glass or should we do this or that," he said. "Finally we just came to resolve that maybe we [should] just take the boards off and see, and fix something if it happens.
"And it never did."
LISTEN | Oxelgren spoke with host Stefanie Langenegger on the Morning Edition
The organization eventually decided to move to its current central Broad Street location, where the name of the club is displayed along with a rainbow pride flag banner.
"For a while there [we] had a huge rainbow flag, so [we] kind of went from a building with boards over the windows to right on Broad Street with [an] in-your-face pride flag flowing."
Oxelgren said visibility like this is important for the LGBTQ community.
"What it does is [show] we're a part of the community, we're not something that we have to hide away," he said. "That's so important for people, to be able to be a part of the city of Regina overall."
He said a lot of work has been done over the 50 years to get to where the community is now.
"Obviously there's some more we have to do, but I think we've come so far, especially in the last 20 years," he said.
"It's quite astounding, [going] from sneaking into a clubhouse that you have to hide from people, and being harassed and bullied, to now being able to get married and attend any venue in town without much fear."
Oxelgren said there is still some fear in some other places around the city, but it's nice to have a community venue like Q where people can be themselves.
"There's been so many people that have come up to me the last little while saying, 'you know, I wouldn't be the same person today if it wasn't for this place,'" he said. "That means a lot and that's what we want to keep going, because there's still a number of people out there that still need that support."
Festivities happening Friday to Monday
Oxelgren said there will be a gala event Saturday at 1422 Scarth Street, the club's former location, followed by supper and a 90s dance party.
There will also be other festivities happening from Friday evening to Monday night.
On Friday, there will a barbecue followed by dance music at the current location, 2070 Broad Street.
Nathan Holten goes to the club at least once a month, as he works closely with the local drag community, which holds its shows at Q.
"I'm actually bartending there this Sunday because I used to be a full time bartender there and they've asked a bunch of the old staff to return for the anniversary," said Holten, who is also one of the board members with Queen City Pride.
Holten said Q is the only club in Canada that is owned and operated by an LGBTQ community.
"It's really important for the community because it is a non-profit organization that is there to provide a support system for people that are coming out, that are transitioning," he said. "They're trying to find their community that is safe and open minded."
Having such a welcoming community is important in Regina, Holten said.
"We are still quite a ways behind some of the rest of the world in how supportive we are in the public eye."
The "Welcome Home BBQ" starts Friday at 5 p.m. CST. Sunday will feature brunch, a happy hour, a film screening and karaoke at the nightclub. On Monday the club will open from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. CST for drinks, happy hour and supper.