Post-Pride: Where do we go from here?

August 3, 2016

yogi&harlan

What to write in my first post as the Executive Director for QMUNITY? I’ve been thinking about this since my first day in the office. I could spend time introducing myself, however I feel that task had already been generously accomplished, thanks to the team at QMUNITY for welcoming me.

Within my first two weeks on the job, I attended my very first Vancouver Pride Parade. The first person I saw upon arriving to QMUNITY’s load-in spot on Robson Street was board member Harlan Pruden. Immediately Harlan invited me into a conversation about Two-Spirit Pride and what Reconciliation could mean within a LGBTQ/2S context. This is exactly what pride means to me – being given opportunities to think more deeply about community, and to act.

Let us begin by looking back at that moment in time that prompted the first Pride Parades across the continent and then around the world. Yes, I am talking about the Stonewall Riot. This riot was sparked early in the morning hours of June 28th 1969 when police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of colour, ignited the spark when she threw a shot glass at a mirror, the first in this crowd to cry out against the police that evening. Stonewall was the backdrop of the biggest LGBTQ/2S protest in North America. This was the flashpoint that started the domino effect that brought may equal rights to queer, trans and Two-Spirit communities in our country.

Pride has become the yearly marker that help us remember and celebrate the decades of work, activism, and activists that came before us. That said, our work is not done.

Pride should be about showing up for each other through the tough conversations. True pride is taking the time to reflect on the gains we have achieved and taking time to build and re-build coalitions in order to continue the social change that is still needed. Especially for those of us who are at the margins.

What Black Lives Matter Vancouver (BLMV) and Black Lives Matter Chapters across North America have reminded us is that Pride is still needed as a protest. We still have work to do to ensure equal rights and equal protections for every member of our queer, trans and Two-Spirit communities. Those remedies will look different depending on who we are and how we fit or do not fit into this world.

BLMV has invited us to deeply consider what a more inclusive Pride might look like and have prompted deep dialogue in our communities around the systemic and social forms of discrimination faced by black queers in our society specifically and for members of communities who are at the margins more generally. BLM is doing the difficult work that will benefit and educate all of us. This is an opportunity to make us all, collectively stronger.

Change can happen when people show up for the conversation. Look at the work that Jim Diva and Jim Chu (former Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police Department) and others engaged in years ago. It was through this work that the VPD became involved in Pride. That work was controversial and difficult at the time and people showed up, listened, and learned. It is through this kind of dedication, determination, and persistence that change can happen.

As was mentioned in last week’s Globe and Mail article I would like to urge people to find a way to learn and join these conversations. If this feels contentious to you think about why that is? I invite you to see it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and actively engage in these conversations.

Here are a few ideas. Check out this year’s Two-Spirit REELness Spotlight and Black Lives Matter Spotlight at this year’s Vancouver Queer Film Festival.

Vancouver’s KILLJOY is organizing a week-long festival centering art, music, and experiences of queer, trans, black, Indigenous, and people of color (QTBIPOC). Find out more about what happening over the week of August 8th to the 14th by visiting http://killjoyfest.tumblr.com/about.

I would really like to thank the Indigenous groups who marched in the parade, the Grand Marshalls Alex Sangha, Danny Ramadan, Morgane Oger, and posthumous Pride hero Charity St. Peters, Black Lives Matter, and countless others for doing this work. As the new Executive Director at QMUNITY I am grateful for the opportunity to listen, learn, and look for ways to both engage and support our broader communities in these conversations. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who celebrated, acknowledged, and participated in the weekend in a way that was meaningful to you.

—CJ

 

 

 

Share this: