First off I would like to thank everyone who read the introduction to LGBTQ + In the City. Thank you to those of you who shared the online article as well, I’m very happy to say that I had really good feedback from the community!
For this article I wanted to do a profile piece. My goal is to bring awareness and to provide a brief look into the lives and stories of some of the different LGBTQ+ community in Niagara.
I spent the month of October interviewing some pretty amazing people in the community. I was fortunate enough to hear their stories and to have them share their experiences of being LGBTQ+
*The names have been changed as to keep it anonymous.
Raven, Gay Woman Age 37:
Raven didn’t realize she was a lesbian until she was high in school, approximately 10th or 11th grade. She admitted to the fact that she had been bullying a girl at her school who was out of the closet. She admitted to not understanding gay people and she had only heard negative things. As the bullying continued, she was soon sent a letter from the girl that she had been bullying. The letter stated that the girl believed that Raven didn’t have animosity towards her, but maybe a crush. Low and behold, she was right! The two girls corresponded back and forth and soon after that they started a relationship.
This was a positive thing, because it helped Raven realize who she was and feel very comfortable coming out as a lesbian. She was definitely one of the lucky ones as far as being accepted by her peers and family. Her father had a little trouble with it at first, she blames traditionalism and a lack of education for that situation. She was also fortunate to have an older brother and sister to help soften the blow to her family.
Overall, Raven was accepted, and there were times that people would comment on the fact that she was gay but that was the extent of it.
She has enjoyed life in Niagara and is building a life in the region with her soon-to-be wife!
Winston, Gay Man Age 28:
It wasn’t until 12th grade that he began dating guys, and he again felt the sting of both racism and homophobia. “So many misconceptions about black, gay men,” he remarked.
He had no male role model growing up, much less a gay black role model, which he claims made life a lot tougher.
However, by his mid-twenties he had discovered a place where he fit in; an LGBTQ+ community that was accepting of him regardless of his race. It was so different than anything he had ever experienced, a warm acceptance of all races, age-groups, genders and on top of that, an exciting drag queen culture! “The youth today only have social media and online dating, which does not allow for a genuine experience,” he says, “We need change!”
Victoria, Trans Woman Age 55:
Victoria started realizing at the age or 10 that she preferred playing with the toys for girls, and by age 13 she started developing more urges to be feminine. She would hide and wear women’s clothes sometimes, and she would even wear women’s clothes under her regular clothing. She always had lots of friends that were girls, rather enjoyed the activities that were usually the “girl” things to do. She grew up in a time where that was abnormal and unacceptable. She was dogged by the old adage “Girls played with girls and the boys stuck to the boys!”
By the time she was 19 she had married a woman and had a son, and comments “I have always and only been attracted to women.”
After several failed attempts to make the marriage work, they ended it.
She continued living as a man and hiding herself and her femininity. After a number of failed relationships, she finally had enough strength to start her transition to become who she felt she truly was!
Victoria continued to live as a man at first, and then came out to family, friends and coworkers about a year-and-a-half ago. She was supported by her friends and co-workers for the most part.
Sadly, there was some negative feedback. Some of her family here in Niagara Falls have been supportive as well, but other family not as much. This does not deter her from saying to others “Be true to yourself and be who you are!”
Gaige, Trans Man Age 37:
Gaige figured out his identity pretty early, and has known his whole life he was in the wrong body. It was about five years ago when he started talking to other transmen online. Apps like Instagram made that possible. It was easy for him to realize who he was and who he needed to become.
He started his journey with testerone injections in 2016 followed by Top surgery in October 2017. He has officially been living as a man for two years now, and is happier than he’s ever been.
Gaige says living in Niagara Falls as a trans person has been scary at times, and mainly he was afraid of the rejection and didn’t want to lose any friends. While transitioning, he was bullied and called names like “freak,” and people would tell him to “shave his face.” Also, they would comment on the fact that he still had breasts at that point.
I am happy to announce though that he does not suffer through the same hatred and bullying now that he is fully transitioned! That change occurred post- surgery, and he believes now that he looks like a man, people accept him more openly and they are actually curious to learn about the whole transition and journey.
Gaige’s message to readers is. “Don’t hide who you are, reach out for help and don’t be afraid to open up!
Santana, Pansexual Age 24:
Santana’s mother always told her to accept and to love anyone no matter what the gender! Her Earth Mother also known as “godmother,” was the same way; she was gay and had a partner. From birth Santana was introduced to everything in a very positive way. She first realized in daycare that she liked girls, there was a pretty redhead with freckles. Santana would always give her cookies to her little crush, even at a young age she knew she liked this girl more than the others.
It wasn’t until she seen a movie called RoboCop 2 where she fell in love with the little gangster boy in the movie. “I had tingles!” she claims.
Around that time she had feelings for both girls and boys. At 12 she started dating a girl and the next year she dated a boy when she was 13. She also had a relationship with a female to male pre-transition trans boy, as well as a gay man.
She opened up and told me that she found that the women she dated left more of an emotional stain on her heart and dating men was a lot simpler.
She finds it difficult in Niagara trying to find like-minded individuals who are looking for a monogamous relationship. She finds many people she has tried to date are not up for anything serious they don’t want to work on things or put in the effort. She quotes a famous author to deliver her message: “In the end we are all just humans… Drunk on the idea that love, only love can heal our brokenness.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
Eva, Bi-sexual woman Age 34:
Eva was born in Germany, but she is also Native and has been living in Canada for a long time now. By the time she was about 8 or 9 she had definitely realized she was attracted to girls, but when she started dating she mostly dated men at first. Her first relationship with a woman in 2003 the two became very serious, and she also had a two-year-old son at the time. She has always felt that she feels a stronger connection with women, they are more understanding and empathetic. Men had difficulty understanding things that she had been through in her past. Eva still finds both relationships equal but they are both different in their own ways!
When she was young she was bullied for noticing and commenting on women and she explained that her family knew before her and it was never an issue, thankfully.
She has had more serious relationships with women but could always change because at the moment she’s currently dating an amazing man. “The world is my oyster!””I love either gender!”
Being able to tell the stories of these individuals and to give everyone else some insight into our local lgbtq + community, it’s something I’m very thankful I get to do!
I really hope this article starts some conversations and open some minds.
Until next time readers, be kind to yourself!