Tag Archives: lgbtq

This Week in Queer Web Content // April 10, 2013

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PTS Services: QPOC-IT

My first meeting with the QPOC-IT discussion group was certainly a positive experience.  The setting was welcoming and intimate; everyone there had similar intentions of accessing a safe space in order to discuss issues important to them, network, and form friendships. Since this was our first meeting, the facilitator began by asking us, “‘what does the term ‘“person/people of colour’” mean to you’?” The answers were varied, bringing up both negative and positive definitions of the words. Based on the rich conversation that ensued, it’s safe to say that it’s a loaded term.

POC can be used as a safety blanket to enclose all people of colour when people are unsure what to label someone as, this way avoiding an awkward corrections. “‘This label is something mainly seen in the western world,”’ mentions a group member, “a citizen from any African country would not describe themselves as a person of colour necessarily”.” The term seems to perpetuate a racist binary between those who are “‘of colour’” and those who are white when employed to group all non-white persons together.  This homogenization of people of colour leads to the erasure of differences between cultures and people, making separate struggles seem meaningless.

With this being said, the term can have a positive connotation too, when used to create a sense of community. It can be regarded as an act of solidarity between queer people of colour, as  our communities often do not accept us due to homophobia and clashes between generations and classes.

In light of this, the facilitator asked another question:.

“How can we support each other, in this new found community of queer, coloured folk?”

Support is essential for us, as there are other systems of oppression are at work within the queer community. Many of us feel as though the gay community is largely a white community where queer QPOC’s needs are not always validated.

The fetishization of people of colour, in which people of colour are considered sexual objects for exploitation, is too real to some of us and the lack of understanding people have of personal oppression makes it hard for people of colour to even want to date within the gay community. Some people of colour feel that these gaps in understanding disallow for the kind of connection achieved through dating someone else of colour; sometimes it’s easier to be with someone you can relate to, who can validate your experiences as they have experienced them too.

Support is an ongoing need that will continue to be addressed and no doubt discussed again in the future. We have only scratched the surface of the topics QPOC-IT and its members want to discuss as we continue to meet. Intersectionality, fighting oppressions not as individual issues but as a unit, was brought up as a future topic. If you think this is a group that interests you, we welcome anyone to come participate or observe our interesting talks!

–Angela Guerrero

The group runs on the last Tuesday of every month. Follow @PTSottawa on Twitter for reminders and updates.

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Mental Health and the Queer Community

I think that it is about time that we get real about mental illness in the queer community. Certainly we talk about youth suicide as a result of bullying in the queer community but not much else. And, even if we do talk about queer youth suicide we do it in a way that others people as victims we need to mourn. The truth is we do need time to mourn and grieve the losses of our community. Sometimes these losses are so impactful that we time away. However it is more than just bullying that affects our community another major factor is mental illness.

 

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, mental illness affects one in five Canadians directly and the other four will have someone in their life with a mental illness. Mental illness includes any psychological condition that has a major negative impact on a person’s well-being and mental health. This includes depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders and many more listed in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.

 

Within the queer community, I think there is some extra stigma surrounding mental illness due to our history with psychiatry. Up until 1973, being gay, lesbian or bisexual was considered a mental illness and still today being trans can land you with a mental illness diagnosis, especially if you’re transsexual and trying to access health care in Ontario. Being considered mentally ill simply for who we are certainly acts as a deterrent towards accessing mental health care. And even for those of us who are not pathologized, there is still a very serious concern that our sexual orientation or gender identity will come under scrutiny by mental health professionals.

 

The reality, however, is that we do live with mental illness in the queer community. And, in my experience, I’ve seen higher rates of mental illness in the queer community than in some others, most likely due to the stresses that we live with as a marginalized population. Let us stop dismissing mental illness in our communities and let us say, yes I live with mental illness and I’m queer. 

 

If you are a mental health service provider and want to make it better for queer clients email education@ptsottawa.org. If you want to help end stigma in our communities volunteer at volunteer.coordinator@ptsottawa.org. If you need queer-specific counselling support make use of our Celebrating Self counselling program by emailing celebrating.self@ptsottawa.org.

 

-Jade Pichette

Education Programs Coordinator

PTS – A Centre for Ottawa’s Queer Community

education@ptsottawa.org; 613.563.4818

 
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June 18: Poly and Relationship Styles Workshop

PTS is launching a new workshop with our Education Programs on Polyamory & Other Relationship Styles!

June 18th: 5:30pm – 7:00pm @ PTS, 251 Bank Street Suite 301
Come join PTS as we launch this new workshop to discuss the diversity of relationship styles and how to respect a diversity of relationship styles including polyamory, monogamy, polyfidelity, monoamory, polygamy and much more! People familiar and unfamiliar with these styles very much welcome!

Suggested Donation of $5 for community members and $25 for service providers. PTS education and discussion group volunteers get in for FREE! Please register by emailing education@ptsottawa.org by noon on June 18th.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/239099176201576/

-Jade Pichette

Education Programs Coordinator, PTS

 
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