By: Adam Dewar
I will start by saying my journey to writing this today, has been a long one with many twists and turns. If you asked me even 5 years ago if I would volunteer to take this on without being asked, I would have laughed and told you, “No way.”
For the pride community, the last 3 years have been particularly difficult. Pandemic restrictions forced a lot of 2SLGBTQIA+ people into situations where they were very socially isolated. While I have a wonderful family and chosen family (more on that later), there are many people in the community that their chosen family, is their only family. As such they were unable to see them for very long stretches. Fast forward to more recent troubling events out of Florida and Uganda; and closer to home a school board in Ontario having made the deliberate decision not to celebrate pride. We have had a few challenging years as a community.
My own journey towards self-acceptance began in high school. Like many young 2SLGBTQIA+ youth my high school experience was marked by acting the part of a straight man. I think perhaps this acting is one of the reasons we have an outsized tendency to develop huge personalities and in some cases fabulous drag personas. But at that time, you hid as much as possible to avoid being bullied.
A few years later I moved from Bedford, Nova Scotia, to Ottawa, and chose to study at Carleton University, primarily because it was known to be quite liberal. It was there I finally felt comfortable to come out as a gay man and meet other 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals. In 2010, I took another major step; I brought my out self to work.
Today I am involved with CANFAR 2.0 (The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research) and their Ottawa legacy committee working with them to raise funds for HIV/AIDS research. Additionally, my partner Andre and I helped our friends Andrew and Thomas to launch a 2SLGBTQIA+ outdoor education organization Out at Camp.
Should you yourself have a child who is gay, transgender or gender non-conforming, or that might be a member of our community and you don’t know what to say, start with “I love you.” Don’t push them to come out before they’re ready. You can do a lot to show you will love and support them with three little words and embracing their community; by attending pride events; and speaking affirmably about 2SLGBTQIA+ people in your community.
Originally, I envisioned this being a letter with questions and insights. Upon reflection, and having studied economics, the utilitarian in me decided headings with questions, answers, and resources would be a more useful resource. Those will be forthcoming to you in the coming days and weeks.
As for how you can be a better ally in the interim; go to Pride, call your 2SLGBTQIA+ friends and family, check in on how they’re doing in these challenging times, join PFLAG, or donate to the ACLU Drag Defence fund. You can also consult these 2SLGBTQ+ Community Resources, which can help you to support yourself, or a community or family member who may be struggling.