I write this blog with a sombre tone, as I reflect on 2SLGBTQ+ pride month just days after the hate-fuelled attack in a gender studies class at the University of Waterloo. I am reminded very much about our 2SLGBTQ+ communities and the continued need for allyship, inclusion, and connection among those a part of and not a part of the 2SLGBTQ+ communities. I pluralise communities to denote the fact that there is more than a single 2SLGBTQ+ community (i.e., not a monolithic group), accounting for the diversity of gender and sexualities (alongside race/ethnicity, dis/abilities, etc.).
June has been a time of reflection, full of joyous activities, celebrations, and reminders. June is not only 2SLGBTQ+ pride month, but also national Indigenous history month in Canada, Seniors month in Ontario, and the summer solstice, among other things. With so much happening in June, it is a great reminder for us to engage in some deeper thinking about why we have marked these days on our calendars. For example, the modern day 2SLGBTQ+ movement, initiated years before, gained significant momentum by the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969.
While the corporatisation of 2SLGBTQ+ pride month has contributed to my exhaustion in performing my queerness, I believe that 2SLGBTQ+ pride should extend beyond the month of June. I can no longer stand the long pride parades and other large-scale pride-related events; I much prefer smaller, community-oriented activities, such as Spectrum’s second annual fundraising gala this past week, raising money for community-based programming for the 2SLGBTQ+ communities in the Waterloo region. These events and activities are vital for many 2SLGBTQ+ people, particularly young folks, to be reminded that there exist communities that care for them and celebrate who they are. It is now, more than ever, that we must continue to engage in conversations of equity, diversity, and inclusion, considering the harmful public policies, detrimental political and public discourses, and hate crimes directed towards sexual and gender minorities in Canada and the United States.
Reflecting on my racialized and gay identities and invisible disability, I am reminded about my experiences of intersectionality in various contexts. For example, I have experienced heterosexism, racism, and ableism in mainstream society, heterosexism in Asian communities, racism in 2SLGBTQ+ spaces, and ableism in professional contexts. It is such an important reminder that we need to consider people and their complete selves, rather than splicing them and their experiences into singular dimensions of their identities (race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, dis/ability). My past research has involved an exploration of social climate within 2SLGBTQ+ spaces, contributing to a better understanding of equity and inclusion when thinking about safe(r) spaces for diverse 2SLGBTQ+ people. I often apply a whiteness lens in my work to ensure that there is a critical reflection on systems of oppression and how those uphold their continued dominance (e.g., white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, ableist ideologies) through policies, practices, and social norms within society and specific contexts. It is through this lens that I am reminded of the common behaviours that many marginalised groups must engage in to ensure dominant groups feel comfortable and “tolerate” diversity. More can be done to disrupt this dis/comfort, engage people in critical learning about systems of oppression/dominance, and centre the experiences of those most marginalised through systems level processes.
I close this blog with my sense of pride in working at Collective Results, a woman-led company comprised of a majority of women consultants. Thus far, I have had the pleasure of working with clients who are women and/or racialized leaders in their field, and I have been inspired and overjoyed by their work. I feel challenged through this work to continue to develop in my career, while feeling engaged and welcomed by my colleagues for who I am. While there is still much to do to create welcoming communities for all people, I feel my work with Collective Results can be a starting place to journey into the realm of equity, diversity, and inclusion.