Pride committee workshop focuses on bringing the whole community together

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The first time Amanda Fitzpatrick saw a gathering of queer women of all ages, together, was at the Toronto Dyke March when she was 18.

She was so happy she cried tears of joy.

“I didn’t really have that space to meet queer people, so going to this event where I was able to see possibilities for myself and talk to people [was] amazing,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was so nice, but that’s pretty much the only event that I go to every year […] where you can just sit down and talk to older queer people, [and] it has always been my favourite part of Pride.”

Fitzpatrick, a fourth-year speech communications major,  fourth-year kinesiology student, Ethan Candler and third-year health studies student Victoria Rodney submitted a successful proposal for a workshop at the Fierté Canada Pride Conference in Ottawa-Gatineau for Pride planning committees from across Canada to come together and work to better their Prides.

Their workshop will focus on fostering relationships between queer youth and elders, especially in communities of colour.

Candler said there is a gap between generations of queer people.

Their workshop will aim to help Pride committees develop events to bridge that gap by addressing causes and finding strategies to bring the community together.

“We’re going to address some of the reasons why this gap exists and then go through some of the results of this lack of community,” he said. “And then, hopefully, [we will] have some of the best practices that Pride committees can then implement into their Pride programming.”

The workshop will also focus on the importance of storytelling, which Candler says is a key method of knowledge-sharing, especially in communities of colour.

Fitzpatrick also referred to key events in queer history which youth may be disconnected from or unaware of.

She highlighted the importance of learning from the experiences of elders involved in events like the AIDS crisis and Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids.

“[We are] trying to bring elders and youth together to hear each others’ stories and share knowledge,” she said.

“There’s so many queer elders that have just so much knowledge about how far we’ve come and the different struggles that were around before that youth may not have experience in,” Fitzpatrick said.  “There are so many different things that we can learn from elders in our community and it will be really beautiful to have more community spaces, more events around fostering those relationships.”

Candler and Fitzpatrick both agree that the majority of Pride events are meant for young, gay, white men and are largely centred around the consumption of alcohol and other substances. They feel that, in addition to events for different age groups.

Pride also needs to focus on including people of colour in the conversation. This is especially true, Candler said, with the tendency of many white folks, even allies, to dominate spaces not meant for them.

“Pride also needs to continue to work for its most marginalized people,” Fitzpatrick said. “We need to have pride be something that’s actually working for the people that are struggling and that’s actually working to make things better.”

Candler said that the group will explore the power imbalance. “Before starting any workshop or speaking engagement, I think it’s always important to address the power dynamics that exist,” Candler said.

Candler and Fitzpatrick are  optimistic for future Pride events that engage with different types of queer communities.

“One of the best parts about creating the events that bring those two communities together is the ability to make a whole new kind of community.”

The workshop will be a part of the Fierté Canada Pride Conference taking place in Ottawa-Gatineau from Feb. 7-10.

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