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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

Taking Collective Action To Combat Hate Crimes

Canada’s largest 2SLGBTQI+ network is leading communities in the drive to do what we have always done – take care of one another…

By Tyler Boyce

The recent massacre at a drag show in Colorado Springs has not only moved the LGBTQ+ community into a period of mourning, but also one of reckoning with the recent sharp spike in hate crimes against two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (2SLGBTQI+) communities in Canada. 

Statistics Canada’s findings on police-reported crimes for 2021 show that the rise of hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation has increased by 60 per cent in recent years.

Last summer, the community woke up to alarms that one of our youth 2SLGBTQI+ member organizations was under attack. The deep dark discriminatory corners of the internet were converging on OutLoud North Bay, an Enchanté Network member organization and one of the only safe havens for 2SLGBTQI+ youth in Northern Ontario. The flyer promoting their for-youth-by-youth drag show was shared on a homophobic and transphobic Twitter account that has about 1.5 million followers. Almost immediately, the local LGBT centre was inundated with hateful messages ranging from slurs to death threats.

The Enchanté Network is Canada’s largest network of 2SLGBTQI+ organizations, with more than 200 member organizations spanning every province and territory. This year alone, we have had to field dozens of reports from our members about hate-motivated incidents in their regions of the country. 

Like OutLoud North Bay, our member organizations in Saskatoon, Vancouver, Montreal, St. John’s and countless other cities know first-hand the disruption and devastation that targeted hate attacks, whether online or in person, can have on a 2SLGBTQI+ organization’s staff, volunteers and community.

Our collective work is committed to building an equitable world where hate has no place – and so, addressing hate is a major policy priority for the Enchanté Network. 

Taking care of one another

In the wake of the attacks on OutLoud North Bay, we saw 2SLGBTQI+ communities and allies do what we have always done – take care of one another. 

Our network is collective power and, together, we act as a net to catch each other when we fall. 

And so in this situation, we went into action. Through the hashtag #IStandWithOutLoud, the Enchanté Network generated and collected messages of solidarity from across the country; countless members and allies shared links to donate to OutLoud North Bay; and, like a united drumbeat across the country, 2SLGBTQI+ communities declared to the world that our abundance will leave no room for hate in Canada. 

When our communities are uplifted with the resources, advocacy and support we need to thrive and continue sustaining our missions, we are able to build strong responses that will tackle hate.

We are calling on Canadians to get into the business of movement building. To donate to their local 2SLGBTQI+ organization. To pour into a society that we can be proud of. To support every person’s right to be themself.

We ground ourselves in hope through our work in advocacy and community building, through the front-line services and resources for queer and trans communities that is provided by organizations across the country, and through responses such as the federal government’s 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan that commit resources to building a more inclusive and safe world for everyone.

It is going to take all of us – but when I reflect on the long road that 2SLGBQTI+ communities and our allies have already walked to get us to where we are today, I only feel hope.

TYLER BOYCE is a nationally recognized human rights activist and the executive director of the Enchanté Network, Canada’s largest network of 2SLGBTQI+ organizations. He is also an adjunct professor in the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, where he teaches Deconstruction of Racism in the Law. In 2022, he was recognized as one of Future of Good’s 30 Young Impact Leaders To Watch. His leadership is grounded in Black Queer Feminist Thought, Queer Theory and a commitment to bridging the worlds of research, public policy and social justice.

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