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What we can learn from the LGBTQ2S+ community this Pride

By ATB Financial 8 July 2020 3 min read

This year, celebrations are far less social for the Pride community and their allies. But as with any community, physical distance doesn’t mean being disconnected. This year, we celebrate Pride a bit differently and turn to members of Alberta’s LGBTQ2S+ communities to engage our minds, as well as our hearts. Here’s what we learned from our friends at The QUILTBAG, The CHEW Project and The Glass Bookshop.

1. Pride started as a resistance to police brutality.

Many know that Pride marches began in the US in the 1970s to commemorate the Stonewall uprising. But not everyone knows what gave rise to Stonewall itself.

“It started as a riot in resistance to police brutality specifically,” says Rebecca Blakey, co-founder of The QUILTBAG, an Edmonton retail shop carrying queer and trans wares. “[Rioters] were saying, it’s wrong that we are targeted and harassed by police and we deserve to get together without the threat of being assaulted or criminalized for who we are.”

2. Acronyms and pronouns matter.

The QUILTBAG isn’t simply a clever name for a store.

“It’s an expansionary variation of the LGBTQ+ acronym,” says Parker Leflar, co-founder of The QUILTBAG. It stands for queer, questioning, unlabelled, intersex, lesbian, trans, two-spirit, bisexual, asexual, gay, genderqueer and more.

“The cool thing about it is that some people recognize it,so it's like a little secret code. When people don't know it, it's a fun conversation to talk about what it means,” Leflar adds.

The CHEW Project is a frontline support services organization in Edmonton serving LGBTQ2S+ youth with an acronym in its name too. CHEW stands for community health empowerment and wellness. CHEW staff like Rohan Dave use QTBIPOC when talking about the inclusive youth he supports with mental health counselling—it stands for queer, transgender, Black, Indigenous and people of colour. As for LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ2S+, that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit and more.

3. Safe spaces build community.

CHEW, The QUILTBAG and The Glass Bookshop all create safe spaces where traditionally marginalized groups can be seen, supported and celebrated for who they are as individuals.

COVID-19 has been especially difficult for individuals of these communities, as the lack of places to gather leads to increased isolation, says Corey Wyness, Community Mental Health Worker/Project Coordinator with CHEW.

“What’s important to remember is that they are quite often invisible,” he says. These kinds of dedicated spaces are crucial hubs of support and opportunity for LGBTQ2S+ people.

For Jason Purcell, co-founder of The Glass Bookshop in Edmonton, his store is about moving books from queer, Black, Indigenous, and people of colour from one bookshelf in the back to every shelf, table and display.

“These people are creating the work that’s leading the world to a more equitable direction, and they shouldn’t be hard to find,” he says.

Community support goes both ways. The QUILTBAG’s Blakey says that through the pandemic and ATB’s BoostR crowdfunding platform she has learned how to ask her community for help.

“I really, really struggle with that. Before we [did] BoostR, it seemed like the only avenue to ask for support was by people purchasing stuff. With BoostR, there were so many different ways to support the store—both in terms of monetary amounts but also sharing a post on social media or sending the BoostR link to family,” she says.

4. Books can support your allyship journey.

The Glass Bookshop’s Purcell uses books to “explore the places where I feel tense or uncomfy” so he can learn and grow. He encourages others to do so, too. He recommends the following reads:

5. Take your Pride local.

Celebrate your Pride or demonstrate your allyship for the LGBTQ2S+ communities by supporting local small businesses and community organizations that are dedicated to these groups. You can make a purchase, donate, volunteer or share their work on your social media channels. As the QUILTBAG’s Leflar says, “Now is the time to sew the seeds of the future we want.”

There is always more to learn and explore when it comes to supporting our Pride communities and being a better ally. We would love to hear from you! Share how you’ve celebrated Pride or what you’ve learned to become a better ally using #ATBGoodnessGrows on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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