Author: Eden Middleton, YYC Campus Ministry Team Member
Queer people don’t stop existing at the end of June, so neither should the activism and celebrations of Pride. Here are 4 steps you can take to keep celebrating Pride all year round.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the things you could and can do, nor is this the only perspective on what you can do. I am part of an organization trying to do its best to educate ourselves, be inclusive and be open. Our team sees these resources and 4-steps as great starting points for anyone interested in being a year-long ally and look forward to growing this list as myself and the rest of the Campus Ministry team continue to read, learn, and grow as individuals and as an organization.
1. Build Inclusive Communities
A central aspect of Pride is the creation of radically accepting and inclusive spaces for queer-identifying people. Work to make your communities — be it church, a classroom, your office, or your trivia night — inclusion. Here are some steps you can take:
- Normalize pronouns. Introduce yourself using your pronouns. Put pronouns in your social media bios and email signatures. If you’re making name tags, invite people to also write their pronouns on their sticker. [Note: in some scenarios, it might not feel safe for a trans person to out themselves. Never pressure someone to share their pronouns. Safety comes first.]
- Replace cisnormative and heteronormative vocabulary with more inclusive language. For example: ‘folks’ or ‘distinguished guests’ is more inclusive than addressing a crowd as ladies and gentleman. So is asking about someone’s partner instead of their husband/wife.
- Step up and speak up. If you recognize someone, be it a stranger or a loved one, making transgender people a punch line or complaining about same-sex couples ruining the sanctity of marriage and if you feel safe to do so, have a conversation with them about their actions and the possible harm it causes.
- Be intersectional. There are queer people of colour, and queer people with disabilities, and queer immigrants. Communities aiming to be inclusive of the LGBTQ+ and two-spirit communities must also work to be accessible and decolonized. Are your gender-neutral washrooms also wheelchair accessible? Does your LGBTQ+ poetry night recognize the indigenous territory it takes place on?
2. Stay Educated
This month we’ve focused a lot on sharing queer resources and perspectives. This can be as easy as reading queer books and listening to queer artists [I’d recommend Laramie Project, Fun Home the Musical, and Rae Spoon] to continue opening up your mind. Here are my favourite resources (some of which we’ve shared already!)
- Nancy Podcast. With a name taken from old slang for a gay man, this is a podcast by queer people for queer people. The topics range from silly to serious, and every one is a delight.
Give it a listen: https://www.wnycstudios.org/shows/nancy
- Everyday Feminism provides intersectional feminist perspectives on a broad range of topics in bite-sized articles. Their editorial board is majority queer people of colour and their articles frequently include an actionable component to help you navigate the best way to fight oppression.
Like them on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/everydayfeminism/ or go to their website here https://everydayfeminism.com/tag/lgbtqia/
- Ash Hardell is a queer YouTuber that (amongst other things) publishes easy to understand videos explaining LGBTQ+ vocabulary called the ABCs of LGBT. They are also documenting their transition process. Check out the ABC's of LGBT here and their whole YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/HeyThere005/
- Iridesce is the United Church of Canada’s “Living Apology to LGBTQ Community”. Presently, it is a great archive of LGBTQ Church stories, art projects, and upcoming events. Check them out here. https://www.iridesce.ca/
- Calgary Queer Arts Society, best known for their annual Fairytales Queer Film Festival, works to empower and amplify queer voices on social justice issues through art. Keep an eye out for next years festival and ongoing events here: https://www.calgaryqueerartssociety.com/
3. Take Action!
Become an LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit Activist.
The first pride was a riot. While it’s wonderful to be joyous and celebrate how far LGBTQ+ rights have come, it’s important to know that our work isn’t done. Here’s how you can help:
- Make your voice heard. Phone or email your MP, MLA, or City Councillor. Attend protests. Sign petitions like this one. Pay attention to LGBTQ+ news and fight for those causes.
- Donate or volunteer with LGBTQ+ foundations. Canada is blessed with a multitude of organizations working for LGBTQ+ rights that would greatly value whatever you have to give, be it time or resources. Furthermore, do research on all charitable organizations to ensure that they aren’t anti-LGBTQ. Here are some of my favourites:
- Camp Fyrefly is for LGBTQ camp that provides a weekend of supportive community and education for youth. This is an awesome opportunity to use your unique gifts—they are often seeking out workshop leaders with skills ranging from photography, makeup application, to wilderness survival. Find them here: https://www.ualberta.ca/camp-fyrefly.
- Rainbow Railroad helps LGBT individuals facing violence and persecution seek asylum in safe countries like Canada. Find them here: https://www.rainbowrailroad.ca.
- Calgary Sexual Health Centre does awesome on the ground work for LGBT communities. They support Calgary GSAs in schools, provide sexual education (including sexual orientation, gender identity and safe sex practices) and offer free safe-sex resources essential to the LGBT communities like condoms and STI testing. Find them here: https://www.calgarysexualhealth.ca.
- PFLAG offers resources parents and families of LGBTQ kids, so that parents can better love and support their children. Find them here: http://pflagcanada.ca/get-involved
- The Skipping Stone Foundation empowers and supports local transgender youth and their families. They provide accessible resources and education opportunities. Find them here: https://www.skippingstone.ca/
- Calgary Outlink Foundation is an LGBTQ community hub, providing vital safe spaces for many diverse groups. They also do great advocacy work in a Calgary context. Find them here: https://www.calgaryoutlink.ca/
4. Love Proudly!!
Love the people around you as fiercely as you can. Be empathetic. Be compassionate. Be forgiving. Statistically, you have loved ones who identify somewhere within the LGBTQ community. You might know who they are, or you might not, but trust me, they’re there. They’re here all year round (not just June!) and it can be tough going sometimes So be vocal and generous in your love and give as much of it as you can muster.
And if you identify within the LGBTQ+ community or you’re in the process of exploring your identity, remember that you are surrounded by people who care about you. You are here. You are loved. Be proud.