Dex Miller started embroidering patches as a hobby. It began as a small side business while Miller saved up to buy a chest binder.
Before Miller knew it, more and more requests were coming in for designs, many of which are focused on promoting LGBTQ pride.
“A lot of people started coming to me for custom orders on pride flags,” says Miller, a third-year history student at U of T Scarborough. Miller has now owned and operated the small business for two years.
is a queer owned and focused brand selling hand-stitched patches, pins and bracelets, which were sold during the recent annual Rainbow Tie Gala held at U of T Scarborough. Miller’s embroideries vary from LGBTQ and feminist messages to pop culture products.
“I realized that it was a visual representation of someone’s identity without a label,” Miller says “You can have those colours and still be under the radar and feel accepted at the same time.”
This year was the tenth annual Rainbow Tie Gala, a popular event hosted by the Positive Space Committee that celebrates The year’s theme was “10 Years of Resilience.”
Sarah McDougall, chair of the Positive Space Committee, says more than 500 students, faculty and staff attended this year’s event that included a variety of music and performances by local artists. A community fair was also held featuring local organizations that promoted services including the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, and Toby’s Place.
“It is important that our commitments to inclusion of all members of our community are not restricted to the rhetorical, but that they are manifested in activities like this, which makes it very clear to all where we stand as an institution,” says Wisdom Tettey, vice-president and principal of U of T Scarborough, who spoke at the event.
The gala was created more than 10 years ago following an attempt to destroy an LGBTQ display on campus – after the incident, staff and students gathered in response to uplift and show solidarity to U of T Scarborough’s LGBTQ community.
“We used the theme of the phoenix on our poster this year and it was inspired by the incident and being attacked but having the ability to rise above and still be able to come together and unite as one as a community,” says Leon Tsai, student chair of the Positive Space Committee and co-chair of the event.
Tsai says that there needs to be more conversation around intersectionality on campus. “We should accept and validate everyone’s experiences and everyone should feel like they are being heard.”
Coming to U of T Scarborough, Miller joined Scarborough Campus OUT (SCOUT) to continue to create a positive space for the LGBTQ community and had previously started the first gay-straight alliance in high school.
“The need to create acceptance and a community where people can feel safe continued when I came to university, but there was already a place for that,” Miller says of the many campus groups and supports that exist on campus. “Having those spaces are important because it helps them feel accepted.”
The Positive Space Committee at UTSC is part of a tri campus campaign to create safer and more inclusive spaces queer, trans, and non-binary persons at U of T. At UTSC, the committee is comprised of any students, staff, and faculty who want to get involved.
McDougall says events like the Rainbow Tie Gala can help raise awareness, but work still needs to be done to create more inclusive spaces across campus. She says one way to get involved is to attend a monthly Positive Space Committee meeting where issues of inclusion and positive space on campus are discussed.
“Whether you’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community, an ally, or just beginning to learn more about positive space and what this means, we want to involve as many folks as we can as we engage in conversation around what inclusion can look like on our campus,” McDougall says.
If you’re interested in learning more about positive space or ways to get involved please email