My mother, June, joins me during the Pride March when she is in town. I love it when she does. She reminds me that people are hard to change, but they are not immutable. When I came out, it was a few years before we could openly talk about it. I know my mom had many of the same fears as so many other mothers, especially those of racialized kids. The need to protect and shield is so strong.
Years ago, she told me the story of an older family acquaintance that lived in their town of Mandeville, in the hills of Jamaica. She was young at the time. All the friends and family knew he was gay and he didn’t always try to hide it. But others made him try to hide it. He was frequently beaten. And then one day, he disappeared. She would find out later from her Poa-Poa (Grandma) that he had been killed and that he had been killed because he was gay.
This violence was how my mother came to internalize homophobia. This violence terrified her of happening to me one day.
Toronto is a different place than small-town Jamaica. But it isn’t always safer. There are so many stories amongst our LGBTQ2S+ friends about being ignored by police, harassed in their neighbourhoods, ostracized in their families, fired from their jobs, beaten for who they love, feeling afraid and isolated, and so much more… The fight for LGBTQ2S+ justice must continue.
I vow to fight for and shine a light on LGBTQ2S+ issues. I promise to defend our communities against the far-right. I commit to holding other public officials, including police, to account for their action and lack of action. I will champion LGBTQ2S+ justice.
It’s not just talk. Here’s how I’ll work to change the discourse on LGBTQ2S+ policy in Ottawa:
- Build my constituency staff to be advocates for workers who suffer from LGBTQ2S+ discrimination in work.
- Establish a yearly “Policing with Community Townhall” as a listening exercise for Toronto Police, RCMP, TTC Special Constables, and Commissionaires facilitated by elected officials in our riding.
- Work with federal agencies to support and enhance non-profit community agency and local school board provision of language, newcomer, and settlement programs for the public that must include Indigenous and LGBTQ2S+ education.
- Continue to strengthen training and uphold guidelines that break down discrimination for newcomers and refugees in federal departments and agencies as they request to come or stay in Canada.
- End the discriminatory blood and organ donation ban preventing the LGBTQ2S+ community from saving lives.
- Build upon existing federal partnerships with agencies like the Rainbow Refugee Society to always advocate for LGBTQ2S+ people in need and our responsibilities under international law.
- Work to make LGBTQ2S+ Youth Shelters a reality in communities that need them.
- Work to make the federal government a partner in establishing LGBTQ2S+ specialized foster programs and foster agencies across the country.
- Embrace the aging LGBTQ2S+ community by ensuring long-term care homes and homecare programs are LGBTQ2S+ inclusive.
- Push for the prohibition of carding everywhere in Canada.
- Introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy in Canada