Graduate student highlights intersections of Pride and National Indigenous History

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Benny Skinner, an MA Global Governance student, invites us to celebrate Pride Month and National Indigenous History Month fiercely and in tandem, mindful of the vast contributions to the push for 2SLGBTQIA+ rights by Indigenous peoples. Originally posted on the Balsillie School of International Affairs website, the article is shared here with permission of the author.


Benny SkinnerBy Benny Skinner

Here in Canada, June is a month of great importance to individuals such as myself – it is a time of reflection, celebration, education, and protest. It is a beautiful time to become educated on the history of 2SLGBTQIA+ people, celebrate our accomplishments, and most importantly, continue the fight for our fundamental rights to be who we are and love who we love without fear of persecution. This fight continues today in 2021, as homosexuality and gender diversity continue to be criminalized both legally and socially in many parts of the world.

I am an Indigenous non-binary person, and though many may quickly recognize June to be a month of rainbows and glitter, often forgotten is the fact that June is also National Indigenous History Month. Though the modern Pride tradition (in North America) of protesting in June was spearheaded by black transgender women, the modern Pride movement was notably preceded by Indigenous groups’ resistance to colonization across the continent. Indigenous groups on Turtle Island have been recognizing fluid conceptualizations of gender and sexuality since time immemorial, and for many the struggle for their rights and freedoms has been historically inseparable from the struggle for the rights and freedoms of Two Spirit people.

Colours and Indigenous peoples
Progressive Pride flag
 

Amidst the recent news coverage of Canada’s residential school legacy – inflamed due to the excavation of the remains of 215 Indigenous children who were murdered at a residential school in Kamloops, BC – I hope to draw attention to the historical connections between the oppression of Indigenous peoples and the oppression of 2SLGBTQIA+ peoples. Ultimately, excluding the intersections of Pride history and Indigenous history brings us further away from reconciliation and risks the erasure of the intersectional identities of those who traditionally acknowledged the rights of people living outside the confines of colonial hetero- and cis-normativity.

To wrap up June 2021, please join me in celebrating both Pride Month and National Indigenous History Month fiercely and in tandem, keeping in mind the vast contributions to the push for 2SLGBTQIA+ rights by Indigenous peoples.

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