I feel so lucky as a queer parent to live in Canada and cried when I watched Justin Trudeau apologize to all LGBTQ2 civil servants. I feel immense gratitude to all those individuals who fought for the rights, protection, visibility, and inclusion that I and my family now enjoy.
Sometimes, here in Whitehorse, I feel like I am accepted as just another homonormative individual, raising another homonormative family. My wife and I have two kids, two cats, and live in relative privilege in our bungalow. I feel so lucky to have this life I thought I never would have, this acceptance and love that for 15 years I thought I was not worthy to have.
It feels so hard-fought. I am cautious not to gloss over my queer past and lack of straight privilege. Although my parents tried their best given their beliefs and community and I honestly love them and although I have many positive memories with my family, I had a sinking feeling of not belonging. I remember being teased for being the tomboy, having few friends and laying low playing with my younger brothers.
I matured into a depressed teenager, was targeted and isolated at a party and repeated raped through the night. In university people threw timbits and spit at me out of car windows, yelling “fag.” As a young adult I took a wooded trail home, one that soothed my mind, and had three skinhead men chase me. I escaped onto a busy street. Heart racing, I was sure I was going to be raped again.
But all this pales in comparison to the self hate that was etched in my mind. I remember at 12 years old the dark voices that began in my mind. They said I was damned to hell, a disgrace to my family, a waste of life. The feeling of being worthless was deafening and unbearable. In my teen years, I tried several times to end my life. I did everything I could think of to disappear.
Although my life is wonderful now, and my community is accepting and beautiful, I cannot gloss over my history. Canada, our communities, and families cannot gloss over the many LGBTQ2 individuals who have been and continue to be marginalized, victimized, isolated or targeted.
After listening to Justin Trudeau’s apology, I wonder where we go from here. How do we welcome and support marginalized children, youth, and adults? Canada can grow stronger we can grow more supportive.
Looking back, I just wanted somebody to have my back, to love me for who I was, and to not feel utterly alone. I want my children to live in world where all children feel loved and welcomed for who they are. No one should ever feel shame, or hate themselves for who they are. Our families, communities, and country can be so much better than that.