As a member of our Pride organizing committee, planning for our June Pride 2015 week is really starting to gear up. This week, I've met with two very different LGBTQ groups in town.
GROUP #1: I was invited to speak to some LGBTQ youth about our town's Pride activities with the goal of getting them involved as volunteers, future organizers and / or participants.
The young people, aged 15 - 20, were in a support group funded by the provincial government. The group was set up to provide mutual support, information and a social outlet for LGBTQ youth, many of whom are on the fringes of society due to poverty, family dysfunction or race.
As well, this group gets involved in projects involving LGBTQ community service and in the end, agreed to volunteer at our Pride Film Night and assist in its planning as well. What was most interesting was, out of the 15 youth present, three-quarters of them were First Nations (....aboriginal, Canadian-Indian) and four were transgendered.
Part of the reason for this was probably because the group's leader was First Nations herself: a respected elder in her aboriginal community and a lesbian who is also involved in LGBTQ activism in our wider community.
But I couldn't help but think that the high participation rate of First Nations youth reflected their history. Before the coming of the white men with their religious intolerance, First Nations cultures revered two-spirited people and held them in high esteem within their communities.
I think that LGBTQ people who are aboriginal are much more readily accepted (and I hope celebrated) in aboriginal culture than in the more constipated white society.
I love hooking up with aboriginal guys for this reason: they're more relaxed, more accepting of their attraction to men, more "in the moment' than most white guys that I've been with.
GROUP #2: Last night, some of us Pride organizers attended a new 50+ LGBTQ social group being set up in town. 14 middle-aged and elderly gay men and lesbians showed up in equal numbers with at least one elderly trans-woman. All were single and most seemed to be childless as well.
We participated in ice-breaker activities, watched an interesting LGBTQ documentary, ate refreshments, mingled and had a very honest group discussion about the excitements and challenges of being LGBTQ in later life. One common fear was that of ending up alone, of loneliness.
As that generation of LGBTQ folks move through their 70s, 80s and even into their 90s, who is going to look after them? Most do not have children and some do not even have supportive families. Some may have set up strong networks of LGBTQ friends for mutual support but others might just have to depend on social service agencies for help. A scary prospect.
I got a little teary-eyed at the honesty and vulnerability of these folks. I never once considered what it would be like to be 80, alone, not well off, in poor health and LGBTQ. These folks grew up in a time when being queer was regarded as an abnormality to be feared, shunned or even punished.
Once again, I thought of how lucky I was to have the support of my three fabulous children.
In the end, the group agreed to meet every six weeks or so and started to plan future events such as game nights, movie nights, summer picnics and the like. As well, the Pride organizing agreed to add a 50+ LGBTQ event to our Pride week, probably a dance.
Most of the older folks did not feel comfortable mingling in a social setting (such as a bar) with exclusively young gays. But they agreed that LGBTQ folks younger than 50 would certainly be welcome to attend our events, as long as us old folks were in the majority!
As an aside, the moderator of the group was a 39 year old French Canadian dude who worked for the provincial agency which funding this elder LGBTQ initiative. He was a total hottie, absolutely gorgeous, single, with piercing blue eyes and a fine body.
Hottie Moderator asked me if I was single, engaged me in conversation throughout the evening, hugged me preferentially as I left and asked if I needed a ride home. Too funny!