REFOCUS BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
Recently, I was invited to speak at Cape Breton University. The invitation came from the Women’s Centre and the Sexual Diversity Centre. I was part of a three-member panel that dealt with LGBT rights in Canada. We spoke of the advances in Canada, even as much work remains to be done.
The group consisting of students and staff had many questions that were answered directly and honestly. Information sessions are necessary and are on the increase.
During the past 40 years I have been involved in a number of speaking engagements in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Toronto. I have witnessed many changes that I count as extremely positive in Canada, yet the fight continues. Where do we go from here? Well, we go forward and get involved in as many positive activities as possible.
At CBU, the questions were well thought out and one immediately feels that attendees were thoroughly involved in learning about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. One of the two young people sharing the panel with me was Stevi Gerrior, a lesbian from the aboriginal community who spoke of growing up in a society that gave her some angst because of her race and sexual orientation. Jess MacDonald, a transgender man, related how he grew up in small town Nova Scotia making an attempt to begin life as a man in a conservative area that is not familiar with trans issues.
As an activist, MacDonald has been on the circuit raising awareness on behalf of the transgender community. Gerrior is presently co-ordinator of the Pictou County Rainbow Community and involved with the Gay/Straight Alliance groups at both North Nova Education Centre and the Northumberland regional High School.
Young blood fighting for equality is a joy for me personally, as at my age and the many years of being involved with advocating equality, it is imperative that the work continues. People are becoming more aware and accepting, but on a world scale members of the LGBT community are encountering tremendous hardships and discrimination. Russia, Nigeria and Uganda are just three examples out of 83 countries. It must be said that Canada has some unresolved issues especially with the transgender community. Comments and information contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.