The Queer Justice Project and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic are proud to join the Two-Spirit and LGBTQIAPGNC (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, and Gender Non-Conforming) communities in celebrating 2021’s Pride month!
Once again, the circumstances certainly are not ideal. We are in the unfortunate position of having to celebrate for the second year in a row while the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary public health measures continue to restrict our ability to gather in person, as a community and as a family. The impact of this on Queer community members cannot be minimized, as we often look to each other’s company for acceptance, understanding, and safety when we are unable to find them in other parts of our lives.
These are difficult times, but Queer communities have shown their resilience time and time again. Doing our best to persevere and care for ourselves and those close to us through this pandemic is itself an act of resistance and accomplishment. Pride, as must always be acknowledged, started as a courageous act of protest during the Stonewall Rebellion on June 28, 1969, when Queer community members rose up against the discriminatory and violent actions of police. In that same vein, many battles for rights, freedoms, and acceptance have been won in the decades since, yet there is still much more to do.
Still today, including here in Hamilton, Queer communities face forces that seek to commit violence against us, that would have us repress our identities, and which propagate hatred. We watch in horror and solidarity with the U.S. Transgender community as their rights to exist in a multitude of spaces come under direct attack by transphobic groups and politicians, just as we do for all Queer communities and individuals around the world who continue to face persecution and hatred. Queer communities must stand united to protect each other and ensure that none are left behind in our ongoing battle for equity for all Queer identities and intersections. Despite these recurring attacks, we are still here, and we remain proud.
While the present is full of challenges, there is also significant reason for hope. Through the tireless efforts of healthcare and frontline workers, a collective adherence to public safety measures, and the truly remarkable development and now delivery of vaccines, we have reason to believe that we may soon be through the worst of the pandemic. Over this past year, we have all watched as collective, brave, societal action has forced the acknowledgement and the challenging of systemic racism and police violence against marginalized communities. The pandemic has also exposed many other systems that drive inequality and the exploitation of essential and vulnerable workers, with many now calling for changes that would create a more just recovery towards a new status quo. Queer activists and perspectives will undoubtedly help shape our collective path forward on these and other important issues.
The Queer justice Project has also undergone some changes this past year. We welcomed a new project lead in Michael Blashko, and have also had to change the way we work in light of the pandemic, moving to providing primarily virtual services. While we have not been able to interact directly with the community as much as we would have liked, each interaction reminds us of the strength, persistence, and pride found within all of our Queer communities. At the same time, we are reminded that no individual or community must always show strength. There is value and truth in vulnerability and in needing to take time for ourselves. We have also been privileged enough to have seen examples of this from our Queer family members during this difficult period.
We look forward to celebrating the past, present, and future of Queer rights and communities this Pride month, because there is so very much to celebrate. While we may not be able to do so in the way we would want, with us all together in person, we will connect in the ways we can, in ways that aim to keep all of us safe.
To everyone, you are beautiful and strong, and have a safe and happy Pride!!!