As someone who has grown up in North America and mainly familiar with Canadian/American queer history, I will be speaking from that lens. I would also like to acknowledge that the term “queer” has historically been used to harm those in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and is now being reclaimed by some as an umbrella term. I recognize this term may not be comfortable for all to hear.
Well, here we are again, pride month. Queer and trans people are expected to straddle many lines society puts out for us. The line between “too much” and “not enough” and the lines of gender and gender expression to name a few. Is it any wonder that we must straddle another line this year? How do we celebrate the rights and freedoms that people like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera have fought for, when queer and trans hate is on the rise? It can be easy to think that such hate is only popping up in the states, but it’s alive in the KW Region.
On May 29, Kitchener Public Library (KPL) staff members posted about the slew of abusive emails and phone calls surrounding the drag queen story time program. Transphobic people have said they are planning on showing up to the drag queen story times, which increases the feeling of danger that many trans and queer community members feel going to these events. Deputy CEO, Penny Lynn, is directing all emails and calls to her inbox regarding the event.
To the people who leave tread marks on the pride crosswalks or go so far as to spray paint a slur on them, we see you. Your acts of hate do not go unnoticed or unseen. It’s not enough to cover up these marks when they happen, or to complain about it with your friends, as helpful as that may be. These actions are symptoms of a much bigger problem. Transphobia, homophobia and queerphobia are alive and well here.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate pride, we absolutely should. Designations like Pride Month, AAPI Month, and Black History Month give society at large specific time to reflect on their own lives. For folks who are a part of these communities it’s a way to reconnect with each other, to mourn, to learn more about our history and take care of ourselves so we can build a good future for ourselves and our loved ones. For allies it is a time to learn about how to support people who are not you, how to make spaces for those who have been historically excluded, pay/make reparations and get involved with your local organizations that support marginalized people.
These months are a jumping off point. A way to build these habits and practices in your life, so that every month of the year we are growing and learning how to be kinder to ourselves and each other. Being able to say “pride is all year long” isn’t just a slogan you see on a Spencer’s T-shirt.
There are plenty of ways to support the 2SLGBTQIA+ folks in our community. To support the KPL and the drag queens involved in drag story time, be sure to call or email KPL’s main branch and provide your words of encouragement and endorsement for the event. If you feel comfortable and are able to, call out transphobic comments on KPL posts about the story time event. Visit the KPL main branch’s website to find out how you can attend drag story time and other pride events. There are also a number of free services for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
SPECTRUM serves to affirm and support the well-being of 2SLGBTQ+ people in the Waterloo Region, and offers resources, programming and volunteer opportunities. OK2BME is a set of supportive services for queer and trans people and families run out of KW Counselling services. For folks who are living with HIV, ACCKWA is here to provide holistic support.