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June 14, 2021Print | PDF
In honour of Pride Month, Laurier presents In Conversation: Pride, Research and Community, a podcast available through Radio Laurier in collaboration with the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The University is proud to highlight some of the students and faculty members studying issues that affect Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) individuals and communities.
Over thirty minutes, Laurier researchers share how their research, often in collaboration with community partners, works to challenge systems of oppression and create more inclusive organizations, policies and systems. In Conversation: Pride, Research and Community is hosted by Laurier Dimensions Program Coordinator Rebecca Smyth and features researcher commentary from:
The podcast can be found at Radio Laurier, Pride and Radio Laurier, Spotify.
When asked to highlight work that particularly resonated as researchers, Tin Vo describes how leisure spaces, like Pride centres, recreational groups and sports leagues foster spaces of resistance and resilience for 2SLGBTQQIA+ persons. “The concept of safe spaces is vital for folks who are marginalized and yet people who have multiple marginalized identities might experience those same spaces as unsafe or exclusionary. My work focuses on what makes those spaces exclusionary for some and inclusive or safe for others.”
As an undergraduate student, Charlie Davis sought to shift the negative and discouraging narratives often associated with queer and trans people mental health and well-being in mainstream media and research. “At the time, we were learning a lot that queer and trans people have higher rates of depression and suicide and that was the narrative.”
Davis shares that many of his trans research participants struggled with their perceptions of being trans, as many identified as successful and happy – counter to typical negative narratives. “And throughout my undergraduate thesis, I realized that what my participants were saying was also how I was feeling and I had come to the realization that I too was trans.”
Researchers discuss the relationship between their identity and lived experience, and how they carry out researchers with 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals and communities. Maryam Khan, whose work centres on the experiences of LGBTQ+ Muslims in the Global North, shares, “I’ve always known deep inside my heart that being queer and Muslim is not an issue. For me, it's really important to be truthful, responsive and transparent, when you’re doing community research and especially when you’re doing work in your communities of belonging.”
With a focus on microaggressions and the campus environment, Michael Woodford reflects on his experience as a gay cisgender man, stressing the critical nature of collaborating with colleagues in the trans community on better understanding the experiences of trans students. “I’ve been fortunate to work with colleagues who are wonderful mentors, who are a part of the trans community, who have guided me in that work, supported my reflexivity and have been critical players in my personal growth and development.
Bringing In Conversation: Pride, Research and Community to an end, researchers were asked to share what they hope to see in the future. Cameron McKenzie shares that although formal rights protections are integral, they only go so far. “A majority of the community continues to face extreme discrimination, the BIPOC community and people with disabilities. But we’re seeing members coming back to organizing through social movements, and I’m encouraged to see where this could go.”
This is echoed similarly by Todd Coleman, “Formal human rights protections are fantastic, but what we need to do is recognize the diversity and that diversity needs to translated to the regional level and individual level within our organizations, within our families and our friend's groups.”
Reflecting on progress for 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities thus far Eden Hennessey conveys, “My hope is for real safety and for us to celebrate together knowing it is not just symbolic. Knowing that we can celebrate the love, beauty and joy of 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities. And that’s what makes me hopeful, knowing we can get to that place.”
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