2SLGBTQIA+ History Month

Monday, October 31, 2022
Rainbow shining on hardwood floor

by Emma Kirke

Beyond Pride month in June, there are many opportunities to celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community throughout the year, for example, October marks 2SLGBTQIA+ history month. First celebrated in 1994 in Missouri, the month serves as an opportunity to reflect on how far the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has come and how far there still is to go.At the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, two participating organisations in particular do important work to help educate the broader community and create safe spaces for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.  

Lunaria provides services and products to help organizations grow diversity, equity, and inclusion. Lunaria had the opportunity to partner with local organisation OK2BME, an organization providing free, supportive services for LGBTQ2+ children, teens and their families in the Waterloo Region. Through the partnership, OK2BME curated 4 Lunaria Education Units on gender and sexuality. Further Lunaria articles explore the impacts of on being out in the workplace and the pressure to cover identities to fit in.  

The Ripple Effect Eductation helps give children, youth and adults the tools they need to create inclusive communities. This includes workshops such as ‘Queer and Trans Justice’ as part of their Social Justice series and reflections on calling in vrs calling out in response to harmful language. 

We have come a significant way forward in acceptance and the rights and protections of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. However homophobic and transphobic rhetoric in public discourse remains and needs to be noticed and addressed. Simultaneously, we can take pride in how far the efforts of many have brought us. For instance, this year Heartstoppers, a teen drama about two gay high school students, was among the top watched shows on Netflix. This would have been difficult to fathom a couple of decades ago when same-sex marriage had not yet been legalized in Canada.  

While most documented history of rainbow folks dates back to the 1970s, they have been a part of every community since the dawn of time. In the Waterloo Region, the Grand River Rainbow Historical Project kicked off in 2011 with the goal of creating a historical record of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in the area. On campus at the University of Waterloo, the Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity is the oldest continually running university-based 2SLGBTQIA+ group in Canada. Beyond providing a safe space for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community at Waterloo through peer support and social events, it also advocates on behalf of community members when the need arises.  

In the recent municipal elections, many school trustee elections drew more attention than in the past with candidates running with platforms based on the pillars of being against gender inclusivity and anti-racism education. These candidates committed to “ending privacy policies that protect transgender students from being outed against their wishes, pulling books from libraries that deal with sexual and gender minorities and vague calls to end the teaching of "gender ideology," a term that belittles non-binary individuals. In the Waterloo region, such efforts largely failed. In Ottawa, the trans incumbent trustee on the English Public School Board soundly defeated her transphobic challenger. In other districts in the provinces “anti-woke” candidates were elected, illustrating that work needs to be done to continue to develop leadership that will help make schools inclusive places for all.   

As we write the next page of history, it is important to recognize our role in the narrative we create collectively. Locally, Spectrum is the Waterloo Region’s rainbow community space. Beyond serving members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, they also provide learning opportunities in 2SLGBTQIA+ cultural competency for allies.  

As we seek out opportunities to engage in reconciliation with our Indigenous neighbours, it is also important to acknowledge Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer history in our community. Spectrum hosts a monthly All Nations Sharing Circle to provide an opportunity for allies to learn about the experiences of Indigenous peoples in the Waterloo Region.  

Commemorative months offer us an annual opportunity to reflect as a community and envision the path forward. It’s an invitation to recommit to making our communities inclusive and welcoming of all.