QueerEvents.ca-Queer People in History - Notable Queers - Community

Queers to Know

The queer community wouldn't be what it is today without the contributions of individuals, from the artists who tell their stories through music and art to the LGBT2Q+ trailblazers, community organizers and the countless number of activists who have made sacrifices to defend the LGBT2Q+ community and fight for our rights.

Queer Events created Queers to Know as a way to capture, celebrate and share the efforts and achievements of LGBT2Q+ individuals who've contributed to queer culture and history in Canada.

Queer Individuals Empowering Our Community

  • Aiyanna Maracle

    Artist - Playwright - Author

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Aiyanna Maracle image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Aiyanna Maracle image

    Bio

    Aiyanna Maracle (1950 - 2016),was a Haudenosaunee, trans, multi-disciplinary artist, scholar, educator, story-crafter and storyteller. Maracle was actively involved in the merging of Ogwehoweh art and culture into the Euro-centric world and consciousness. For 20+ years she sought that same inclusion for herself and other gender-variant folks by offering an alternate framework to the prevalent Euro-centric view of gender.

    “There is no mirror for who I am. From necessity I became the mirror for all the younger ones.”

    Describing herself in her article “A Journey in Gender” as a “transformed woman who loves women,” Aiyyana’s work steered people towards a decolonized understanding of gender and sexuality. Through her work she argued that in most traditional Indigenous cultures gender identifications fall outside the strict confines of the gender binary and are recognized as both socially and spiritually integral to the culture.  Her one-woman show, Chronicle of a Transformed Woman, detailed her use of traditional medicine rituals for transitioning genders while struggling under colonial rule.

    Aiyyana’s work, which reflected her various transformations in relation to her ongoing process of decolonization, received numerous honours and recognitions. She’s believed to be the first Indigenous person to be awarded the John Hirsch Prize, a national award for the most artistically exciting new director in Canadian theatre (1997). In addition to performing across Ontario and Chippewa territory, in 1998 she exhibited an installation and a performance piece at the Second International Transgendered Art Festival in England. She is the author of the book, Chronicle of a Transformed Woman (2000), and many articles.

    Today, the University of Victoria's Transgender Archives holds a collection of her legacy and history. Maracle's contributions to Indigenous art and the lives of trans women is significant and she remains a trailblazer in the history of our community.

  • Alec Butler

    Artist - Playwright - Activist

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Alec Butler

    Bio

    Alec Butler is a Two-Spirit, Non-binary, Intersex activist and an award winning playwright, author and filmmaker, they write, direct, edit and perform in their videos and champions the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and DIWO (Do-It-With-Others) aesthetic. Author of the queer novella Rough Paradise and the plays Medusa Rising, Cradle Pin, Shakedown and Black Friday - which was nominated for a Governor General Award.

    Butler is a scholar in Indigenous Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. Their research centres on Two-Spirit Queer Indigenous Literatures, Cultures, Communities and Politics. They are of Indigenous (Mi'kmaq) and Settler (French/Irish) descent originally from Unama'ki (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia).


     

  • Alex Abramovich

    Queer Events - Queer Film Listing Poster
    Language: English Subtitles: English

    Bio

    one of the few Canadian researchers focusing on queer and trans youth homelessness.

     

    In 2016 thanks to Abramovich’s research and leadership, Canada’s first transitional housing for LGBTQ youth is opening its doors at the YMCA’s Sprott House.

  • Alexandre Baril

    Activist - Author

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Alexandre Baril image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Alexandre Baril image

    Bio

    Alexandre Baril was the first Francophone trans person in Canadian history to be employed as a professor specializing in trans studies to teach on sexual and gender diversity in French.

    In 2011, Baril received the Lana St-Cyr Award from the Aide aux transsexuels et transsexuelles du Québec (ATQ) in recognition of the major role he played in organizing the first trans protest in Quebec history on June 17, 2010, in Montreal. Baril is described as one of the first trans researchers in Canada to publish work on trans issues from a transactivist perspective in the French language

  • Angela James

    Athlete

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC -Angela James
    queerevents.ca - queer black history - notable people - angela james

    Bio

    Angela James was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, becoming the first openly gay player, one of the first women, and only the second black athlete to ever be inducted.

    Also known as "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey", she amongst many other achievements led the Canadian women's hockey team to four world championships (1990, 1992, 1994, and 1997).

    James has been a dominant force in promoting and inspiring women and young girls in sports, each year the CWHL awards the highest scoring player the Angela James Bowl. In 2009 the city of Toronto renamed her hometown hockey arena the Angela James Arena to honour her contributions and work within the local community.

  • Angela Robertson

    Activist - Editor - Executive Director

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Angela Robertson
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Angela Robertson

    Bio

    Angela Robertson is an activist working with black, women’s and LGBTQ communities. She is widely respected and recognized for implementing life-transforming programs for women in Toronto. Angela is currently Executive Director of Queen West - Central Toronto Community Health Centre. She was previously Director of Equity & Community Development at Women’s College Hospital and Executive Director of Sistering – A Woman’s Place which is an organization that offers practical and emotional support to homeless, under-housed and low-income women in the city.

    She was an editorial member of ‘Our Lives’, Canada’s first Black Women’s newspaper produced by The Black Women’s Collective and the Women’s Educational Press managing editor for five years up until 1992. In that role, she gave racialized and queer-identified women representation in the arts and politics through the publication of Canada’s first oral history of African and Chinese Canadian women. She later co-edited ‘Scratching the Surface: Canadian Anti-Racist Feminist Thought’.

    Angela has been a board member of Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention and Houselink Community Homes. She is currently a member of the Stephen Lewis Foundation boards.

  • Ann-Marie MacDonald

    Author - Actor - Playwright

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable People - Anne Marie MacDonald

    Bio

    Ann-Marie MacDonald, is a Governor General’s Award-winning playwright, novelist and broadcast journalist, is known for her literary works, Fall on Your Knees and The Way The Crow Flies.

    In December 2018, MacDonald was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada, in recognition of "her multi-faceted contributions to the arts in Canada and for her advocacy of LGBTQ+ and women's rights".

    She’s also appeared in several films including Better Than Chocolate.

  • Ashanti Mutinta

    Artist - Musician - Producer

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals -Backxwash image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals -Backxwash image

    Bio

    Backxwash is the stage name adopted by Ashanti Mutinta who is the first transgender female artist to win the Polaris Music Prize, which is known to celebrate diversity and to support up-and-coming Canadian artists. Her winning album God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It uses many references from metal bands and horror films, such as distorted samples of Black Sabbath’s singer Ozzy Osbourne, Led Zeppelin and David Lynch’s film Eraserhead.

    “As an angry trans woman, I don’t know any other way I can rap.” - Backxwash

    Growing up in a religious family in Zambia, she started making hip hop beats as a teenager before moving to Canada in her late teens to live with her siblings. She studied computer science before exploring Montreal’s live music scene and going back to expressing herself through music.

    “My existence itself is political. My livelihood is political, and the livelihood of my sisters is political. We just want rights, and we have to go through so many hurdles to do that, and I feel very connected to that struggle.” - Backxwash

     

  • barbara findlay

    Lawyer - Advocate - Educator

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - barbara findlay

    Bio

    barbara findlay is a lesbian feminist lawyer known for her ground-breaking equality rights cases argued at the highest court levels in Canada. She has practised as a labour lawyer, worked for the Legal Services Society doing poverty law, and has been a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia.

    She is a founding member of the provincial and national queer lawyers' groups in the Canadian Bar Association, called SOGIC (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference), and has been a member of LEAF (the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund) as a board member of West Coast LEAF and as a member of the National Legal Committee.

    In 2001 she became the first openly LGBT2Q+ lawyer in Canada to be recognized with a Queen's Counsel designation.

    findlay has represented the queer community in a number of landmark cases, including same-sex marriage in BC and establishing the right of two lesbian mothers to both be registered on their child's birth certificate. She has represented a transgender woman's right to be considered a woman in Nixon v Rape Relief; a lesbian couple's complaint against the Knights of Columbus for refusing to rent them a wedding hall; and an incarcerated transgender woman's right to have sex reassignment surgery and to be housed in a facility for women.

    barbara findlay is also a grassroots advocate and legal educator for the LGBT community.

     

  • Chris Bearchell

    Activist - Journalist - Founder

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Chris Bearchell

    Bio

    Chris Bearchell is a one of the most notable people in the history of queer liberation in Canada. She began writing for The Body Politic in 1975 and for years was the only woman writing for the paper. She was also part of the founding of some of the first queer organizations in Canada.

    She was part of the first coordinating committee of GATE (the Gay Alliance Towards Equality), co-founded the Lesbian Organization of Toronto and was at the founding meeting in 1975 of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario in which she became one of its key players. In 1976, Chris became the first Chair of the Committee to Defend John Damien, a racing-horse trainer fired in Ontario in 1975 solely for being gay; the first test case that fought for the inclusion of non-discrimination against lesbians and gays in the Ontario Human Rights code. During 1978 Chris became involved in the Coalition to Stop Anita Bryant and in Lesbians Against the Right (LAR).

    One of the most notable moments of Chris' public activism was at the rally after Operation Soap. Chris inspired 3,000 angry demonstrators with her words and became involved in the Right to Privacy Campaign organized to defend the men arrested in the raids.

    "They think that when they pick on us that they’re picking on the weakest. Well, they made a mistake this time! We’re going to show them just how strong we are. They can’t get away with this shit anymore! No more shit!"

    Chris Bearchell, Feb 6, 1981, after the bathhouse raids

    In 1981 and again in 1986 she worked on the campaign to win an amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code to include non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, traveling across the province to build that campaign in 1986.

  • Courtnay McFarlane

    Activist - Poet - Community Worker

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Courtnay McFarlane
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Courtnay McFarlane

    Bio

    Visual artist, poet and manager of children, youth and adult services at Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Community Health Centre

    McFarlane was a founding member of a number of Black queer groups and organizations in the early ’80s and ’90s — such as Zami, Sepia, AYA Men — that provided voice and visibility for Black LGBTQ2 individuals and issues. This activism in many ways laid the foundation for events, organizations and movements addressing Black LGBTQ2 communities today. He has also been on the board of the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival

    He is also currently curating an exhibit at Toronto’s BAND Gallery called Legacies in Motion: Black Queer Toronto Archive Project as part of the Myseum Intersections festival 2019.  This exhibit seeks to unearth the stories of the vibrant period of political organizing and cultural activism from Black LGBTQ2 communities in Toronto in the 1980s and 1990s. Drawing its diverse exhibit materials from personal archives, which feature images, documents, videos and visual art, Legacies in Motion directly challenges the common narratives within mainstream LGBTQ communities that often render the history and contributions of Black queers as invisible and marginal.

    MacFarlan has published works in MÃKA Diasporic Juks: Contemporary Writing by Queers of African Descent by Debbie Douglas, Courtnay McFarlane, Makeda Silvera and Douglas Stewart and Plush: Selected Poems by By Sky Gilbert, Courtnay McFarlane, Jeffrey Conway, R. M. Vaughan, David Trinidad, Lynn Crosbie and Michael Holmes.

  • Diane Rowe

    Judge - Advocate - Community Worker

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Diane Rowe image

    Bio

    Diane Rowe is an Anishinaabe two-spirit Judge and is a member of the Micmacs of Gesgapegiag Band, in Gespe’ge’wagi, the seventh district of Mi’kma’ki.

    On June 9, 2020, Diane Rowe  was sworn in on the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. Before joining the Nova Scotia Department of Justice in 2002, Rowe practiced general civil litigation and acted on behalf of Indian Residential School claimants in several provinces. Rowe also helped to form the Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance.

    “I think most of us were just excited to be in a room with people who have experienced the same sorts of challenges in our home communities, challenges in the gay community too...”

    Rowe has also engaged in volunteer advocacy work on behalf of Indigenous Peoples, equality rights, refugee claimants, and the LGBT2Q+ community.

     

  • Dionne Brand

    Poet - Novelist - Documentarian

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Dionne Brand
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Dionne Brand

    Bio

    Dionne Brand is one of Canada's most renowned, honoured, and bestselling poets, novelist and directors. She won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry and the Trillium Book Award for her 1997 collection Land to Light On. Her collection thirsty won the 2003 Pat Lowther Award. Her novel What We All Long For won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2006. She won the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize for Ossuaries.

    She was Toronto's Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2012, and in 2017, she was named to the Order of Canada.

    Her work often explores themes of anti-racist and anti-capitalist activism and diasporic life as well as queer relationships and erotics. In addition to being a writer, Brand is a social activist. She is a founder of the newspaper Our Lives, is past chair of the Women's Issues Committee of the Ontario Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and does work with immigrant organizations around Toronto.

  • Douglas Stewart

    Activist - Community Worker

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Douglas Stewart
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Douglas Stewart

    Bio

    Douglas Stewart is a gay rights activist and was the founding Executive Director of the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention. He works mainly within Black communities to provide awareness and support to issues around gay rights.

    Douglas has worked as an equity trainer, dispute resolution officer and as Chief Human Rights Advisor at Centennial College. He has a long history of commitment to youth development, regularly providing training and organizational development to many youth empowerment agencies such as SERVE! He has also worked with the Toronto District School Board on anti-discrimination initiatives and in alternative school programs.

    He was a founding member of Zami, the first Black queer group in Toronto. Founded in 1984 and named after an East Caribbean word for lesbian sex, Stewart was one of the first people in Canada to speak out publicly against the exclusion and racism that queers of colour faced from the overall queer community. In 1986, after The Body Politic enraged queers of colour in the community after publishing an advertisement from a white gay man who was seeking "a young, well-built BM [Black Man] for a houseboy," Stewart wrote a letter to the magazine that said racism among gay men "forces gay men like me to prioritize my concerns...Black gay activists define themselves first and foremost as Black and as gay second."

    Zami was just one of dozens of groups formed in the 1980s to combat problems from the “queer establishment."

  • Faith Nolan

    Singer - Songwriter - Activist

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Faith Nolan
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Faith Nolan

    Bio

    Faith Nolan is a singer/songwriter with a deep history of queer, women’s and anti-poverty activism. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, her parents and extended family were coal miners in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia of African, Miqmaq and Irish heritage. She later grew up in Toronto's working-class Cabbagetown. Her commitment to social justice comes from her life experiences and the people she grew up with, and she works through the cultural tool of music. Her music is her political work, a politics firmly rooted in her being working class, a woman, African Canadian and queer.

    Faith is the founder and director of three different choirs in Toronto, Singing Elementary Teachers of Toronto; CUPE Freedom Singers , the Women of Central East Correctional Centre; Sistering Singers. produced a film, Within These Cages, about women in prison; and continues to fight for a better understanding of how poverty has created a disproportionate representation of poor women, especially black and First Nations, in Canadian prisons.

  • Jamie Lee Hamilton

    Activist - Politician

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jamie Lee Hamilton image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jamie Lee Hamilton image

    Bio

    Jamie Lee Hamilton became the first openly transgender person to run for political office in Canada when she ran for Vancouver City Council in 1996. She also participated in Vancouver’s first Pride march. A community activist, Hamilton spent her life fighting on behalf of vulnerable populations. She was one of the first to ring the alarm bell to police and media about women going missing, and being murdered, from the city’s Downtown Eastside. Hamilton also served as a director of the Vancouver Pride Society and the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society.

  • Jessica Platt

    Professional Athlete

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jessica Platt image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jessica Platt image

    Bio

    Jessica Platt is a professional ice hockey player. She plays for the Toronto Furies in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) and was the first transgender woman to play in the CWHL. Platt was the first professional female hockey player to come out as a transgender woman, and the second player in the professional women's hockey league to come out as transgender.

  • John Sylliboy

    Educator - Founder - Community Organizer

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - John R Sylliboy image

    Bio

    John R. Sylliboy is L’nu (Mi’kmaq) from Millbrook First Nations in Nova Scotia and is one of the co-founders of the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance (W2SA) in 2011 alongside Tuma Young. The W2SA helps to build support and awareness of Two-Spirits in Mi’kma’ki and Canada.

    He is also a consultant, researcher and policy analyst, for his own company, JRSylliboy Consulting and works in social and cultural development, health and education policy, and research for Atlantic Indigenous communities, especially for Two-Spirits and Indigenous LGBTQ.

  • Julie Lemieux

    Politician - Advocate

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Julie Lemieux image

    Bio

    On November 5th 2017, Julie Lemieux won 48% of the vote to become Mayor of Très-Saint-Rédempteur, a municipality in the Montérégie region of Quebec.

    This marked the first time an openly transgender person was elected as mayor in any municipality across Canada and the first female mayor in the history of Très-Saint-Rédempteur.

    “[My win] wasn’t the start of a movement, but the result of years of work by many to build tolerance in communities across the country.”[...] We're writing history and I have a lot to offer." - Julie Lemieux

  • Kael McKenzie

    Judge - Advocate

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Kael McKenzie image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Kael McKenzie  image

    Bio

    Kael McKenzie (born 1971) is appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba making him the first transgender person appointed as a judge in Canada.

    "I didn’t set out to be a trailblazer or to try to have courage. It just happened that way."

    Kael McKenzie

    He is a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation and has also served as the Manitoba chair of the Canadian Bar Association, and president of the provincial Rainbow Resource Centre for Manitoba's LGBT2Q+ community.

  • Kiley May

    Artist - Activist - Community Organizer

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Kiley May

    Bio

    Kiley May is Hotinonhshón:ni, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River territory, and is now rooted in Aterón:to (Toronto). She is a two-spirit Indigenous transgender multidisciplinary artist and storyteller, a writer and author, an actor, an emerging screenwriter and a filmmaker. Kiley is also an activist and educator, committed to equality, representation, diversity and inclusion.

     I want to shift the narrative of transgender representation from what historically has been tragic and victimizing to one that’s thriving and about love and happiness.- Kiley May (Interview with Fashion Magazine)

    As an actor, Kiley has a recurring role as assistant pathologist River Baitz on on the hit CBC show Coroner and has appeared in IT Chapter Two, Woman Dress, and The D Cut. As a screenwriter, director and producer, she is creating scripts and roles for Indigenous and transgender women, focusing on positive, empowering and authentic portrayals. Including representation and narratives for Queer identities and histories. Kiley is one of the winners of the Magee TV Diverse Screenwriters Award, presented by the Toronto Screenwriting Conference.

  • Makeda Silvera

    Organizer - Activist - Writer

    queerevents.ca - queer black history - notable people - makeda sIlvera
    queerevents.ca - queer black history month - makeda sIlvera

    Bio

    A writer, community organizer and activist, Makeda Silvera has been part of the cornerstones of Queer Black community in Toronto. In 1983, along with her partner Stephanie Martin, she established the 101 Dewson Street collective house. Many activist organizations can trace their history back to beginning from conversations around the kitchen table at this house, including Zami, Lesbians of Colour, Blockorama and the Black Women's Collective.

    In 1985, she co-founded Sister Vision Press, a pioneering Canadian indie press devoted to publishing writing by women of colour, and has authored, published and edited a number of books including Piece of My Heart: A Lesbian of Colour Anthology — the first anthology of its kind to be published in North America.

    At the time, we were in dangerous territory as a house for LGBTQ people, [...] We also came up against racism. I was coming home once and the neighbours called the police because they weren’t accustomed to Black people owning a house in this neighbourhood.
    Makeda Silvera
  • Mirha-Soleil Ross

    Artist - Activist - Community Organizer

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Mirha Soleil ross
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Mirha Soleil ross

    Bio

    Mirha-Soleil Ross (b. 1969) is a Métis trans sex worker, performance artist and activist. Raised in Montreal, she moved to Toronto and co-founded the pivotal queer zine Gendertrash From Hell with her partner Xanthra Phillippa Mackay. New issues of Gendertrash were published between 1993 and 1995, compiling original art, poetry, fiction and resource lists, all with the aim of giving a voice to the community.

    Ross went on to helm Counting Past 2, the world’s first trans art festival, and developed a number of performance art pieces that sought to educate audiences about the realities of sex work and debunk stereotypes about trans identity.

     “I’m hoping one day the queer movement is able to open its political agenda to recognise and embrace struggles that go beyond its immediate boundaries [...] I’m not too optimistic this will happen, but I would love for you to prove me wrong.” - Ross

    Meal Trans, the program which she and Tina Strang began, provided services for sex-workers, particularly low income trans-feminine ones. She also started a trans sex worker outreach program — to fight for better conditions for trans individuals and sex workers in Toronto.

    Mirha demanded her equal place as a trans woman, sex-worker and as a low income person. These three characteristics had historically caused a wide separation within the community but Mirha refused to be pushed out or stigmatized.

  • Monica Forrester

    Activist - Community Worker

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Monica Forrester
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Monica Forrester

    Bio

    Monica Forrester is a Program and Outreach co-ordinator for Maggie's Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. Since 1999, she has worked in various agencies to educate and make services accessible for trans* folks. She actively works to promote awareness and visibility of trans women. From living and working on the streets to being  instrumental in creating a drop-in and an outreach program for transpeople at the 519 to her current work as a program coordinator for Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, Forrester has long advocated for transgender people in Toronto. She was also part of advocating for trans women to be allowed into women’s shelters and in creating policies to prevent shelters from discriminating against trans women.

  • Morgan Holmes

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Morgan Holmes

    Bio

    Morgan Holmes is a Canadian sociologist, author, and a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario. She is also an intersex activist and writer, and former member of Intersex Society of North America.

    Holmes participated with Max Beck and others in the first North American demonstration about intersex issues, a 1996 demonstration as Hermaphrodites with Attitude outside the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Boston. The event is now commemorated internationally as Intersex Awareness Day. She attended as a representative of Intersex Society of North America. She also participated in the second International Intersex Forum in 2012.

    Holmes has published several works including Rethinking the Meaning and Management of Intersexuality (2002), Re-membering a Queer Body' (1994), Mind the Gaps: Intersex and (Re-productive) Spaces in Disability Studies and Bioethics (June 2008) and the book Intersex: A Perilous Difference (2008). She is also the editor of Critical Intersex (2009), a collection of essays on intersex issues, including theoretical and empirical research.

  • Myra Laramee

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Myra Laramee image

    Bio

    Dr. Myra Laramee is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation. She brought the Two-Spirit name to a sharing circle at the 3rd Annual Gathering of Native American Gays and Lesbians. It was received through ceremony and adopted by the community afterwards.

    Myra spent over 35 years in education as a teacher, counselor and administrator. Her research is in Indigenous Knowledge and Practices as they relate to teacher education. Her thesis explored the acquisition, utilization, research and writing of Indigenous Knowledge and was titled, Teaching and Learning as an Act of Love: An examination of the impact of seven traditional Indigenous teaching practices in a teacher education and on teacher's classroom practices. 

  • Nik Redman

    Artist - Activist - Community Worker

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Nik Redman
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Nik Redman

    Bio

    Nik Redman is an artist, activist and community worker who was born in Montreal, Canada. Nik grew up in both Barbados and Canada.

    He is a member of the GBQ Trans Men’s’ Working Group, part of Ontario Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance; the MaBwana Community Advisory Committee, the Prisoners Justice Action Committee (PJAC) and the Trans Fathers 2B Parenting Course Project Team. Nik was one of the online facilitators for the province-wide HIV/AIDS-themed Stigma campaign. Nik currently works as a Grievance Officer with the University of Toronto’s Local 1998 United Steelworkers Union. In addition, he works doing Anti-Harassment and Human Rights Training for the Union.

    An active participant in several communities, Nik volunteers with the LGBT Youth Line, Community One and is part of the programming committee and the Board of the Inside Out Film and Video Festival. He also serves on the Board of Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP).

  • Ravyn Wngz

    Artist - Activist - Founder

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Ravyn Wngz image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Ravyn Wngz image

    Bio

    Ravyn Wngz is Tanzanian, Bermudian, Queer, 2 Spirit, Transcendent, Mohawk Tanzanian. The racism she continually experienced while being an artist in predominantly white spaces prompted her to create safe spaces for black people, including the Ill Nana DiverseCity Dance Company y- a queer and trans multiracial dance company that aims to change the landscape of dance and provide accessible affirming dance education to the LGBTTIQQ2S community which she co-founded.

    Currently, Ravyn Wngz is the artistic director of the OVA (Outrageous Victorious Africans) collective, which presents the voices of LGBTQ2S + individuals of African descent through dance and theater. She was also involved in the creation of the Wildseed: Center for art and activism, a space designed to put black residents of Toronto first, which has hosted events for the black LGBTQ2S + community.

    “I've been told a lot of times that you are either black or queer, be gay… And so I chose myself. ”

    Wngz aims to challenge mainstream arts and dance spaces and aims to create opportunities, nuanced representations and platforms for marginalized LGBTTIQQ2S communities with a focus on Black, Indigenous, and people of colour.

    Ravyn is a member of Black Live Matter Toronto Steering committee, A group who are committed to eradicating all forms of anti-Black racism, supporting Black healing and liberating Black communities.

  • Ren Navarro

    Educator

    queerevents.ca - queer black history - notable people - ren navarro
    queerevents.ca - black history month - community leader ren navarro

    Bio

    In 2016, Ren Navarro was the only queer black woman working in the craft beer industry in Ontario. Since then, she has gone on to become the founder of Beer.Diversity., a business she started in 2018 with an aim to bring more diversity and inclusion to the craft beer business. With nearly a decade of experience in the alcohol industry, Ren uses education to address the lack of diversity in the Canadian beer industry and works to make the industry more inclusive for all. She also co-founded the Toronto-based Society of Beer-Drinking Ladies which is now the largest women-focused beer group in North America.

     

    Original Photo Credit: Racheal McCaig

  • Richard Fung

    Founder - Filmmaker - Educator

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Richard Fung

    Bio

    Richard Fung is a Trinidad born, Asian-Canadian gay filmaker, activist, teacher and community organizer.

    Inspired by a community of Gay Asians, marching proudly with a banner proclaiming "We're Asian, Gay and Proud" at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, Richard Fung returned to Toronto and formed the Gay Asians of Toronto (GAT) in 1980. This organization would be the first organization in Canada to advocate for LGBT2Q+ people of colour. Richard Fung would continue on to be a tireless outspoken activist for inclusion and ending racism in the Queer community. 

    Amongst his many accomplishments he gave voice to gay Asian people in his 1984 documentary Orientations. This groundbreaking documentary featured interviews with 14 queer Asian people and looked at their experiences with coming out and racism they experienced in the wider queer community. Orientations challenges the white gay community to reconsider their perceptions of Asian passivity, traditionalism and inserts homosexuality into an Asian context, disrupting the idea that to be gay is unmentionable, or worse, “Western.”

    "As the predominant images of homosexuals were white, my agenda was to speak back to homophobia as well as to the orientalism that exoticized and excluded us within gay and lesbian communities. I wanted to encourage Lesbian and Gay Asians to feel less alone and to become involved with community,"  - Richard Fung

    Fung became one of Canada’s most widely exhibited artists working in video, showing in festivals and curated programs in major museums and community centres, hosted by major institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., and grassroots cultural organizations such as the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver. As a writer, curator, lecturer and panelist, Fung is recognized for his contribution to contemporary film and video scholarship, particularly his examination of codes inherent to dominant forms of culture and for his clear presentations of strategic actions which challenge this dominance. 

    He has received multiple awards and fellowships including the Bulloch Award for best Canadian work in the Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival, Toronto (1996), the Bell Canada Award for Lifetime Achievement in Video Art (2000) and the Toronto Arts Award for Media Arts (2001).

  • Rupert Raj

    Activist - Author - Counsellor

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Rupert Raj image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Rupert Raj image

    Bio

    Rupert Raj has a long history of working towards trans rights in Canada. Amongst his many accomplishments, he has founded three transgender publications including Canada’s first national transgender publication 'Gender Review'. He is also the founder of several trans organizations including the Association for Canadian Transsexuals (A.C.T.) in the late-1970s, when living in Vancouver, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Transsexuals (FACT) in 1978 while living in Calgary as a lobbying and educational organization on behalf of trans people. In June 1999 he co-founded a peer-support group for transsexual men and transsexual women at the 519 Community Centre in Toronto. Rupert has recently retired from his position as a psychotherapist at Toronto's Sherbourne Health Centre, where he worked in the LGBT Program.

  • Susan Gapka

    Community Organizer - Founder - Activist

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Susan Gapka image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Susan Gapka  image

    Bio

    Susan Gapka (b. 1950s) is a founding member and chair of the Toronto Trans Coalition Project which emerged from the advocacy work of the Trans Lobby Group. She was also the founder of the Trans Lobby Group, started in September 2001 with the goal of access to SRS and proper healthcare.

    Susan helped lead the Ontario campaign to fund transition related surgeries, helped change the Vital Statistics Act so trans people's legal documents more accurately reflect their lived identity, and drafted and successfully campaigned to adopt legislation to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canadian Human Rights Act to include 'gender identity' and 'gender expression'.

    Along with Rupert Raj, she also led the Trans Health Project in 2003. She has been an effective campaigner for social justice and a tireless advocate for Trans rights. Susan became the first openly trans person to receive a key to the city of Toronto in 2018.

  • Syrus Marcus Ware

    Artist - Activist - Educator

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Syrus Marcus Ware
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Syrus Marcus Ware

    Bio

    Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, community activist, researcher, youth-advocate and educator. He is currently a facilitator/designer for the Cultural Leaders Lab (Toronto Arts Council & The Banff Centre).

    As a visual artist, Syrus works within the mediums of painting, installation and performance to challenge systemic oppression. Syrus’ work explores the spaces between and around identities; acting as provocations to our understandings of gender, sexuality and race. Syrus is part of the Black Triangle Arts Collective (BTAC), a visual arts collective dedicated to exploring disability, racial and economic justice.

    Syrus has co-edited a book chapter (with Zack Marshall) about disability, Deaf culture and trans identities in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves(2013) and co-authored "It Cannot be Fixed Because It Isn’t Broken" in Disability Incarcerated (2014), a chapter about the experiences of disability, racism and the Prison Industrial Complex. He is the author of Love is in the Hair, part of Flamingo Rampant’s 2015 book series.

    Syrus is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter-Toronto. For 14 years, Syrus has worked with Blackness Yes! to produce Blockorama (the black queer and trans stage at Pride), and other related events throughout the year. Syrus is also a founding member of the Prison Justice Action Committee of Toronto and a founding member of the Transparent-cy Working Group at The 519 Community Centre. He helped to initiate the Trans-Fathers 2B course- the first course for trans men considering parenting in North America. Syrus is also a member of the Gay/Bi Trans Men’s HIV Prevention Working Group for the Ontario AIDS Bureau and one of the creators of “Primed: A Back Pocket Guide for Trans Guys and the Guys Who Dig ‘Em”.

  • Sze-Yang Ade-Lam

    Dancer - Community Organizer - Activist

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Sze-Yang Ade-Lam

    Bio

    Sze-Yang Ade-Lam is a queer asian non-binary storyteller & community developer via dance, kung fu, words, drawings, film, and photo. They are a co-founder of Bricks and Glitter, a grassroots, community arts festival and one of the co-founders of the ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company, a queer positive multiracial dance company that embraces difference as strength. Since 2011 Sze-Yang has created more accessible affirming dance education and performance opportunities for QTBIPOC’s and their adjacent communities, as well as advocated for change in the arts.

    There is an illusion of safety when people think of Canada in regards to LGBQT rights. But it is not safe up here, especially for trans, nonbinary, nonconforming, B,I, POC youth/people and even queer men of colour – they face disproportionate amounts of violence. - Sze-Yang Ade-Lam (interview for Where Love Is Illegal)

    They are the driving force behind the shift in the Dora Awards towards gender neutral awards (The Dora Moavor Moore Aware is presented annually by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts which honours theatre, dance and opera productions in Toronto). In 2016, they registered for both the male & female category of dance performance for the Dora Awards, because there was no check box for nonbinary people. They were told that they had to choose only one category or they would be disqualified from registration – or they could pull the registration. They refused to comply and promised to fight back if they were disqualified. Sze-Yang Ade-Lam was granted a one time exception to register in both categories and continued to work with the Dora team to advocate for change so that trans & nonbinary artists could register. In 2019 the awards became gender neutral and the organizing team committed to provide anti-bias training to the volunteer jurors.

    I thought of all the trans & nonbinary artists past and present that could not register. In 2019 the awards became gender neutral. I was not properly credited for my work in this shift & again had to fight to be recognized for my work/labour in these shifts as well as the many Q,T, B, I,POC folks involved. - Sze-Yang Ade-Lam

  • Tuma Young

    Lawyer - Founder - Activist

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Tuma Young image

    Bio

    Tuma T. W. Young was born into the Atu’tuej clan for the Apli’kmuj clan and is a member of the Eskasoni First Nation. He is one of the co-founders of the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance (W2SA) in 2011 alongside John Sylliboy. He is the first Mi’kmaq speaking lawyer in Nova Scotia and also teaches at Cape Breton University as well as running his own private legal practice. He is also on the Executive of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (NSBS).

    Tuma has been working to make our L’nuk communities welcoming and to celebrate 2-Spirited people in our communities for many years.

  • Viviane Namaste

    Educator - Author

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - viviane namaste image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Viviane Namaste image

    Bio

    Viviane Namaste is a professor at Concordia University. In 2001 she received the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for her book entitled, Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. Namaste was also a director in the documentary Madame Lauraine's Transsexual Touch which deals with transsexual sex workers as well as sexual health and clientele. In 2009, she was awarded the "Canadian Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights", which is awarded jointly by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights Watch.

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