On Being an Ally and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia
Updated: Apr 9, 2018
By Yuddha Maharaj
I consider myself an ally, advocate and activist for marginalized communities. An incomplete list includes: Indigenous communities, the black community, the disabled community, those with mental health challenges, immigrants and refugees, and of course, the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Today I will be focusing on the LGBTQ2S+ community. First off, what does that acronym mean? To give a brief explanation of each letter, it means…
Queer or Questioning
And this is just a simplified version of the term. Rather, there are many labels that individuals use to identify their sexual orientation or gender identity (hence the + symbol). To learn more and educate yourself about the LGBTQ2S+ acronym and community, check out this resource. The community is ever growing as more people explore their identities, express them openly, and engage in mutual support.
Now that we've established what the LGBTQ2S+ community means, I’d like to explain the meaning behind IDAHOT: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. IDAHOT is an international event held on May 17th to spread awareness and attention to policymakers, social activists/movements, the media and the general public about the discrimination and violence experienced by the LGBTQ2S+ community worldwide. It is celebrated in over 130 countries and has influenced and impacted health care organizations, health care providers, political and social movements/events and especially fostered progressive and healthy conversations in places where these conversations may not otherwise happen.
Being an ally means educating myself, becoming more aware, active and involved in the LGBTQ2S+ community in order to support individuals who identify within the community and using my voice to amplify the voices of LGBTQ2S+ people. That is why Peel HIV/AIDS Network's We Belong in Peel event is important to me.
I am volunteering as a Special Events Committee Member for Peel HIV/AIDS Network's annual fundraising event, We Belong: Voices of Youth--International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. This year's IDAHOT event is a breakfast focused on awareness and nurturing a sense of belonging for those who identify as LGBTQ2S+ in the Peel Region. The event is meant to challenge homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, and other barriers to LGBTQ2S+ inclusion in social, political, cultural, religious and recreational pursuits. This is done by fostering a healthy and progressive conversation with the mission to end the stigma and foster inclusion in Peel Region.
Why are LGBTQ2S+ initiatives and the community important to Peel Region? It is not a secret that the Peel Region, comprised of Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, does not have as many visible services and support systems available for those who identify as part of the LGBTQ2S+ community. In fact, if you google 'LGBTQ in Brampton', one of the first few results that will come up is an article titled "Brampton Isn't Safe for LGBTQ People" published on the Bramptonist. To put it simply (as written on PHAN's website), LGBTQ2S+ communities are important and belong in the Region of Peel, a region that strives to be a respectful, safe and inclusive place for all residents.
LGBTQ2S+ inclusion in Peel Region is important to me because I am an ally. It is important to me because I have friends who identify as part of the community. It is important to me because I believe in inclusivity, diversity, respect, equity and progress and I am passionate seeing those values come to life in the world. Lastly, LGBTQ2S+ inclusion in Peel Region is important to me because I know somewhere in our community, our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues, and our community members are afraid to be themselves, to speak up and in turn feel excluded and marginalized in a place they call home. That is the change we need to see and that is what this event is all about.
If you agree with any of the things I have said, whether you are an ally, want to become one or identify as part of the community, join us at “We Belong: Voices of Youth” to make your voice heard in this revolutionary movement.