Most of us are ready to break free of our winter cocoon and look forward to the events, days and months that honour and celebrate the sexual- and gender-diverse community. Like the variety of flowers that soon will be pushing up through the soil in spring, there’s no shortage of diversity.
One annual event that recently passed — Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 26 — encouraged people to wear pink shirts, which signify anti-bullying initiatives. The day, held on the last Wednesday of February each year, began in 2007 in Berwick, N.S., when students David Shepherd and Travis Price bought and distributed 50 pink shirts after a male Grade 9 student was bullied on his first day in high school because he wore a pink shirt. The grassroots resistance movement quickly spread nationally, to the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, and beyond.
The following is a partial list of events that will be occurring in 2020. Many of these days or months will be recognized in Niagara, so periodically check the Community Calendar on the website of OUTniagara, a registered non-profit umbrella organization that supports Niagara’s sexual- and gender-diverse community, at outniagara.ca. Find out if there’s anything happening near you. And if there’s not, organize something!
•February: Black History Month
•March 31: Transgender Day of Visibility—a free, all-ages event will take place at Third Space Café in Niagara Falls, 4-8pm
•April 26: Lesbian Visibility Day
•May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
•June: Pride Month
•July 14: International Non-Binary People’s day
•June 21: National Aboriginal Day
•Sept. 23: International Celebrate Bisexuality Day
•October: LGBT History Month
•October: AIDS Awareness Month
•Oct. 11: National Coming Out Day
•Oct. 25-31: Asexuality Week
•Oct. 26: International Intersex Awareness Day
•Nov. 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance
A free event that is quickly approaching is an evening with Ivan Coyote, an internationally recognized storyteller and author. Their presentation, “Neither, Nor: How to Circumnavigate the Gender Binary in Seven Thousand Easy Steps” will take place Friday, March 13, 7pm, at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines.
Associate Professor Natalee Caple, Department of English Language and Literature at Brock University, has organized the event. Both OUTniagara and PFLAG Niagara, a peer-support group for parents, family and friends of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, have supported the event with sizable donations.
Brian Scriver, chair of the board of OUTniagara, said he’s delighted that OUTniagara is able to financially assist with bringing a high-calibre performer like Ivan Coyote to Niagara. “This is exactly why OUTniagara’s Community Fund was formed – to support and enrich the lives of Niagara’s sexual- and gender-diverse community. We thank the organizer for inviting us to participate in this exciting event.” To learn about OUTniagara’s Community Fund, go to outniagara.ca.
To discover more about this event and the partners who are making it happen, click here.
Looking ahead to June, the District School Board of Niagara recently reassured Niagara residents that it will continue to raise the rainbow flag during Pride Month, along with its new diversity flag. Many thanks to Trustee Kate Baggott who read OUTniagara’s letter that supported the ongoing raising of the rainbow flag.
On deck in 2020 are the installations of rainbow crosswalks that have been approved for both St. Catharines and Niagara Falls. We’ll keep you posted about details as we learn them.
It’s going to be a busy year. We hope to see you at the many events.