2022 - Pride Month

Happy 2SLGBTQI+ Pride Month!

Pride is a time to take a moment to reflect on the past, the successes, the challenges ahead and the many, diverse Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and other (2SLGBTQI+) folks and communities that make up our inclusive communities. It’s also an opportunity to reflect individually and collectively on our own values and beliefs and how we can continue challenging oppression and empowering 2SLGBTQI+ folks to live their fullest, authentic lives.

While there were previously pockets of resistance to the prevalent homophobia of its time, the most well-known pushback, which is believed by many to be the beginnings of modern day Pride, occurred at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 when in the face of continued police discrimination and oppression, folks rose up to fight back in what is known as the Stonewall Riots. As 2SLBGTQI+ communities continued to grow, diversify and thrive over time, so did the Pride movement. While there are Pride events held year-round, June has become known as Pride month globally.

Canada had its own reckoning similar to Stonewall when in 1981, Toronto Police raided multiple bathhouses in Toronto as a part of “Operation Soap”, harassing, beating and arresting 306 people https://xtramagazine.com/power/toronto-bathhouse-raids-40-years-194590. Until the G20 summit in 2010, the Toronto bathhouse raids remained the largest mass detention in Canadian history for decades. In response to this, 2SLGBTQI+ communities organized which helped fuel the modern Pride movement in Canada.

Tracing back from today to its grassroots beginnings, Pride has always been and will always be political.

One of its oldest allies, the Labour movement and 2SLGBTQI+ communities have a long history of mutual support around the world. Pride, a 2014 film, exemplifies the mutual solidarity when gays and lesbians showed up in support of striking mine workers who later returned the favour and showed up to support folks at Pride and beyond https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-30728604 . In Canada, the Labour movement has been a regular supporter of Prides across the country but has also been involved in key moments – like supporting the fight for same sex marriage, advocating for the explicit inclusion of Trans rights in law and society, and fighting against the blood ban against men who have sex with men, the latter which was just struck down at the end of April this year https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/health-canada-blood-ban-1.6434078.

At COPE Ontario, we hold equity and inclusion as fundamental pillars upon which to build an inclusive movement of workers that fights for each other. COPE Ontario continues to denounce homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, sexism, racism and all the other oppressive -ism’s that still plague our wider cultures and communities. We acknowledge that our union and culture is not outside of this and we work to continually improve our approach to integrating equity and fighting for 2SLGBTQI+ workers. COPE Ontario also firmly believes in supporting grassroots activism and give thanks to the many, many grassroots efforts that are led by 2SLGBTQI+ folks as they fight to improve the world not just for themselves but for us all.

Being an ally isn’t just reserved for Pride month – there’s plenty of ways to support 2SLGBTQI+ folks and communities year-round! Here’s a non-exhaustive list of ways you can support 2SLGBTQI+ folks and communities:

Fly A Pride Flag

Debuting in 1978, the Rainbow flag, designed by Gilbert Baker, has endured as a symbol for 2SLGBTQI+ communities. As our communities have evolved, so has the thinking around the flag and after going through a few variants, the Progress Pride flag emerged in June 2018. This redesigned version of the flag was designed by Daniel Quasar as a way to make the Pride flag more inclusive of racialized and Trans communities. https://progress.gay/pages/progress-initiative Since it’s release, it’s quickly become the modern Pride flag for 2SLGBTQI+ communities.

Flying a Progress Pride flag is one effective way to demonstrate allyship with 2SLGBTQI+ communities from wherever you may live. It lets 2SLGBTQI+ folks living in your neighbourhood know that you’re supportive and a safer space to go to if they encounter harassment and/or violence as well as makes it clear to others without even saying a word that you’re an ally to 2SLGBTQI+ communities.

A vibrant enduring symbol, raise the Progress Pride flag and post a picture of it proudly on your social media to show your support for 2SLGBTQI+ folks and communities!

Support Your Local Pride Events

As acceptance of 2SLGBTQI+ folks and communities continue to grow overtime, so does the reach of Pride events. These days, Pride events, both big and small, are found in communities across the country.

Like with many events involving larger crowds, COVID has put a damper on in-person Pride events. This year though, more and more Prides all across Ontario are doing in-person events. To find out what Pride events are going on in your backyard, check out the OFL’s list of 2022 Pride events taking place across the province: https://ofl.ca/2022-pride-events/

Be An Active Ally
Allyship isn’t passive, it’s active! Allyship is an ongoing practice that evolves and is ground in action. Be an active ally. Listen to feedback. Take action.

Refusing to be a bystander is one key way that allies can be supportive of 2SLGBTQI+ folks and communities. When you witness or are faced with anti-2SLGBTQI+ oppression, harassment and discrimination in online spaces or in-person, don’t leave the onus on the person or folks being targeted. Silence is complicity – don’t be an enabler through inaction and complacency. For tips on how to effectively engage in Bystander Intervention, check out this helpful resource. https://www.vice.com/en/article/5dm38x/a-guide-to-bystander-intervention-without-calling-the-police

Make The Labour Movement More 2SLGBTQI+ Inclusive and Support 2SLGBTQI+ Workers

Folks from marginalized communities like 2SLGBTQI+ communities are often talked about and around rather than directly to. These voices have a harder time reaching spaces where they can advocate for themselves, on their terms, in their own words. It’s important to create space for 2SLGBTQI+ workers to be heard and share these perspectives and for folks in leadership positions in Labour to create these opportunities. Allyship is infusing intersectional equity all across your Local, its events, spaces and opportunities.

Outside of COPE, both the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress have Solidarity and Pride Committees for 2SLGBTQI+ workers to collaborate on infusing greater equity and inclusivity into the wider Labour movement. For COPE Locals, consider sending members of your Local to participate on either, or both, of these important committees.

Support Organizations That Empower and Support 2SLGBTQI+ Folks And Communities

2SLGBTQI+ folks and communities don’t just need support and solidarity during Pride month, but all year round. Non-profits rely on donations and volunteers to support their important work.

For parents, families and friends of 2SLGBTQI+ youth, there’s PFLAG chapters across the country that exist to support families and their 2SLGBTQI+ kin. To find your closest PFLAG chapter in Ontario, go here: https://pflagcanada.ca/ontario/. LGBT Youthline is another excellent support for 2SLGBTQI+ youth, offering peer support to youth year-round including a Peer Support Help Line. Check out their website here at https://www.youthline.ca/ and find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lgbtyouthline. There’s also a camp held annually near Sault Ste Marie called Rainbow Camp which offers 2SLGBTQI+ youth the opportunity to experience camp and the outdoors in a safer, more inclusive environment - https://www.welcomefriend.ca/camp/

2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations (2-Spirits) is a great non-profit social service organization whose membership consists of First Nations, Métis and Inuit 2-Spirit People and focuses on serving 2SLGBTQI+  folks within these communities. To find out more about them and how to support them, head on over to www.2spirits.com or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/2-Spirited-People-of-the-1st-Nations-1841697149379183

The Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project is a non-profit that supports marginalized sex workers, many who hail from racialized and/or 2SLGBTQI+ communities. During the pandemic, they’ve ran a fund to support sex workers, coordinated low barrier vaccine clinics and have continued to fight for greater health and safety for these vulnerable workers. To check out what they’re up to and to donate, head on over to https://www.maggiesto.org/ or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MaggiesToronto

Rainbow Railroad is a fantastic global non-profit that helps 2SLGBTQI+ folks who are facing discrimination and persecution in their home countries including helping refugees find safer places to live in other countries. To find out more about them and to support the work they do head on over to https://www.rainbowrailroad.org or check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rainbowrailroad

There are so many fantastic organizations doing great work and these are just a few of them. There’s also so many more, including regional organizations such as The 519 in Toronto https://www.the519.org, OUTLoud in North Bay https://outloudnorthbay.com/, and Kind Space in Ottawa (https://kindspace.ca/, that provide many services specific to 2SLGBTQI+ folks and communities. For a more extensive list of organizations across Ontario, go here: https://rootsinwellness.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/lgbtq-ontario-youth-resources-june2017.pdf or check out this list which includes organizations in Ontario as well as some across Canada: https://charityvillage.com/organizations/directory/lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-lgbt/

Support 2SLGBTQI+ Artists and Creatives

2SLGBTQI+ folks are active in every arts scene and Canada is no exception. 2SLGBTQI+ artists and creatives bring their unique perspectives and lived experience to their art and let’s support them in keeping their art flowing.

Support fantastic organizations supporting queer artists and creatives like Inside Out, an online and in-person 2SLGBTQI+ film festival. Find out more about them here: https://insideout.ca/

Support 2SLGBTQI+ Owned Businesses

For as much diversity as there is in 2SLGBTQI+ communities, there’s a plethora of businesses owned and operated by 2SLGBTQI+ folks. Support these businesses, support local. Here’s a list of 41 Canadian 2SLGBTQI+ Owned Stores you can support: https://www.gofreddie.com/magazine/41-lgbtq-owned-stores-for-pride-merch-in-canada

The Pink Pages directory is also a great resource you can use to find local 2SLGBTQI+ businesses to support https://thepinkpagesdirectory.com/listings/canada/ontario/

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