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Topics Newsletter: LGBTQ+ Pride Month!
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This is our first Topics Newsletter!  Each month, we will be compiling a themed newsletter filled with a variety of pieces of interest including stories, news articles, photos, and submissions.

June is Pride Month.  This month, we remember and celebrate the people and events that sparked the LGBTQ+ rights movement. 
The Stonewall Riots
 
In the 1960s, The Stonewall Inn was the hub of the NYC Gay Community. In an outside world where discrimination and intolerance towards LGBT people were ever-present, the Stonewall Inn was thought as a safe haven for those of differing sexual and gender orientations. At this time, it was illegal for homosexuals to be served alcoholic drinks or to dance together, and transgendered people were frequently frisked and arrested if their sex didn't match the way they were dressed. By 1966, police were raiding gay bars regularity, with hundreds of LGBT people being arrested every month in the United States.
 
On Friday, June 27, 1969, The Stonewall Inn was invaded by police officers. Things turned violent after a few LGBT people were arrested on questionable charges, handcuffed, and very publicly forced into police cars on the streets of NYC. Tired of being targeted and mistreated by the police, the LGBT community fought back that night and led riots that lasted several days. The events that occurred at Stonewall are now regarded as a catalyst for the modern LGBT rights movement.
Stormé DeLarverie,
“The Gay Community’s Rosa Parks”

Stormé DeLarverie was known for her performances as a drag king and one of several “butch” lesbians that fought against the police on the night of the Stonewall riots.
 
The night of the raid, Stormé DeLarverie was hit on the head and handcuffed. Bleeding from the head, she turned and yelled to everyone watching, “WHY DON’T YOU DO SOMETHING!?”.  With her words, the crowd erupted, bottles were thrown, windows were smashed, and the riots began. Stormé never sought to take credit for inspiring the historical movement, but it’s widely recognized that it was her powerful plea that incited the Stonewall riots. Some have even labeled her as the “Gay community’s Rosa Parks”.
 
As a volunteer street patrol worker, DeLarverie continued served and protect her community for decades. A prominent figure in the community, she patrolled lesbian bars to keep her “baby girls” safe and continued to do so until she was in her eighties.

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera,
"The Unsung Heroines of Stonewall" 

Although they are often left unmentioned, transgendered women of colour Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were important leading forces for the Stonewall riots.  Marsha P. Johnson was one of the first to resist the police that night, and Sylvia Rivera was among the first in the crowd of onlookers to take action by throwing a bottle at her police oppressors and yelling  "I'm not missing a minute of this. It's the revolution!"

Marsha P. Johnson was a passionate African American trans/gay rights activist, sex worker, and drag queen during the late 20th century. She was known for her uniqueness, individuality, outspokenness, and compassion for others.

Sylvia Rivera was of Venezuelan and Puerto Rican descent. On top of being an activist for trans and gay rights, Sylvia also worked as a drag queen. After getting kicked out of her house at age 11 for wearing make-up, Sylvia faced some incredible hardships. However, nothing could crush Sylvia’s incredible spirit and passion for the fight for equality.

After Stonewall, Marsha and Sylvia co-founded the organization STAR, or “Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries”.  This group was dedicated to helping young homeless drag queens and trans women of color. They spent their whole lives fighting for equality.

Brenda Howard,
"The Mother of Pride"

Brenda Howard was a bisexual woman with a heart for activism. In earlier years, she was involved with the antiwar and feminist movements. A member of the community herself and a friend to many of those who were at Stonewall the night of the riot, Brenda began to advocate for the rights of LGBT people in 1969 and continued until her death in 2005.
 
A month after the riots ended, Howard organized The Christopher Street Liberation Day March: one of the United States’ first public parades where LGBT people proudly and publicly claimed their identities. This 
march influenced and inspired pride marches, parades, and celebrations internationally.  As a result, she is recognized as “The Mother of Pride.”
 
While she fought for anyone who was having their rights trampled on, some of the work closest to her heart was in the bisexual community. In 1988, Brenda Howard co-founded the New York Area Bisexual. She then went on to also successfully lobby for the inclusion of bisexual men and women in the 1993 March on Washington; at this time, the movement was primarily focused on homosexuality.
"Live and let live" by Kristina Morgan

"We would not have marriage equality if it weren't for two transgender women of color rioting against police brutality in 1969"  
- imaculiada.tumblr.com
 
I watched Sylvia Rivera's emotional speech before the riot started to a crowd of mainly gay white males who booed her and cursed her existence even though she was up on that podium rallying for their rights.  Even today, some of the LGB community tries to separate and drop the T, questioning why sexualities are associated with gender.  People forget the history or completely deny it happening.

I see similarities in the trans community with the discrimination and invalidation toward non-binary and gender non-conforming people. They think we will make it harder for cis people to respect trans people when, in fact, we are the ones of the forefront, showing the world that you don't have to try to conform to the binary, that gender isn't one way or another, that acceptance doesn't have to be based on medical reasoning, and that we don't have to try to be like every other cis person in order to be respected. 

The idea of "live and let live" is lost on so many people now.  We are a society that bases acceptance and respect on aesthetics and scientific reasoning.  This is even evident with disabilities and mental illnesses that aren't visible being disregarded.  Until we get past this, there will always be a lack of respect and recognition for anyone who goes against the norm.

Kristina Morgan is the Trans and Gender Diverse Drop-In support worker for the Nelson and District Women's Centre. She is an artist and a self-proclaimed social justice warrior. She loves helping people and being an advocate for the trans community.
Canada enacts protections for transgender community
 
The new bill updates the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression." The legislation also makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression. It would also extend hate speech laws to include the two terms, and make it a hate crime to target someone for being transgender.

Read more: 
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/transgender-rights-bill-senate-1.4163823

Submission by Maya Provençal

I have come to realize that there is still an apparent disagreement both within and outside of the LGBTQ community on whether or not bisexuality is a legitimate form of sexual identity. Although it seems that a general acceptance of non-heterosexual identities continues to grow, many fail to recognize sexuality as a spectrum, which has caused high levels of physical and mental health issues within the bisexual community.

In a report recently released by “The Human Rights Campaign”, it was found that compared to their gay and lesbian peers, bisexual individuals are 3 times less likely to come out to their doctors and 2 times less likely to come out to their friends and family. It was also reported that they are 20% more likely to consider or attempt suicide, show higher rates of HPV and other sexual health problems, and are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than any other member of the LGBTQ community. Contrary to some beliefs, these risks are not inherent to bisexuals, but are instead a result of the hostile social climate surrounding bisexuality and other non-monosexual identities. I have found that this social climate includes many negative claims concerning bisexuality, such as the misconception that bisexuality is illegitimate, that bisexuals are actually gay, lesbian, or confused, and that bisexuality is just a phase.

The popular misconstrued perception of bisexuality as illegitimate has put a lock on the closet door for many bisexuals. Many of us are forced to choose between having the authenticity of our sexual identity questioned or criticized, and remaining “in the closet”. When coming out to my peers as bi, I was met immediately with condescension and stories about how they “sometimes kissed girls in high school”. I was told it was “probably just a phase”, I would “make up my mind eventually”, and that I was “too young to know anyways”. These reactions are all too familiar to young bi, pan, and omni sexual individuals. Since then, I have been reluctant to reveal my sexual identity to friends, male sexual partners, and even medical providers. As a result, I went 4 years of being sexually active before learning exactly what safe, same-sex sexual intercourse should actually look like, which left me extremely vulnerable to contracting sexually transmitted infections and diseases.  Living in a society that practically encourages bisexuals not to disclose their sexual identity through mechanisms of bisexual erasure and bi-negativity, it comes as no surprise to me that those who identify as bisexuals show higher rates of sexually transmitted infections.

Mental health struggles experienced by bisexual individuals can also be largely attributed to the common belief that individuals can only be gay or straight, but not both. This popular perception of sexuality forces bisexual individuals to engage in additional forms emotional labour almost everyday, such as having to come out to their friends and family every time they have a same-sex partner and re-closet when they are with someone of the opposite sex. Many of those who identify as bisexuals decide to hide their sexuality as a way to avoid challenging this myth. However, hiding your identity from family and friends can take a toll on mental health. This puts many bisexuals in a lose-lose situation, making them more susceptible to feelings of depression or anxiety.

In the spirit of pride month, it is important that we cease to ignore, question, and devalue bisexuality. In order to create a climate that allows those who identify as bisexual to flourish, it is essential that we begin to consider sexuality as a spectrum in which many sit somewhere in the middle of gay and straight.

New Trans & Gender Diverse Drop-In Coordinator!

Axel is a pragmatic dreamer, a poet, and a lifelong learner. They have a degree in Women’s Studies and love listening to stories (and telling them!). Axel gets stoked about facilitating workshops on gender, sexuality and sexual health, as well as creating spaces for queer, trans and two-spirit youth. They are passionate about consent culture, gender revolution, unlearning racism, dancing, singing, playing the ukulele, and thinking about how big the universe is.

Axel is grateful to do work on Sinixt tum xula7xw (pronounced “toom-hoo-la-ow”, meaning land or territory), in Nelson, BC, where they’ve been living and learning over the past five years.

Trans and Gender Diverse Drop-In is held on Fridays from 3 pm - 7 pm. 

July is Social Wellness Month!  

If you have any stories, poems, articles, or art that you would like to submit for next month's topics newsletter, suggestions for future newsletter topics or feedback on our newsletter please email them to
summerstudent@nelsonwomenscentre.com
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