Empower the Black Queer Community of Edmonton!

This is the third of three articles:

Empower the Black Queer Community of Edmonton!

(Photo courtesy of FundRazr)
(Photo courtesy of FundRazr)

Recent controversy around homophobia at the Edmonton Reggae Festival made it clear: Black LGBTQ people in Edmonton need to be heard. You can boost our voices by donating to a group of community organizations that unify, celebrate and empower us!

All proceeds will be split amongst the following organizations that empower Caribbean and Black people who self-identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, or Queer (LGBTQ):

40% J-FLAG (Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays)
30% The Pride Centre of Edmonton
15% iHuman Youth Society
15% Brown Black & Fierce Collective

We are Black.
We are queer, trans and gender non-conforming.
We are Edmontonians.

Our race, sexuality, gender, and where we come from are inseparable parts of our identity. Each aspect of our identity affects our experience of life.

We enjoy the celebration of blackness and queerness in Edmonton. We have a stake in any issue concerning blackness or queerness in Edmonton. Yet we experience a lack of visibility in each of these communities resulting in isolation from the greater community and from each other.

The reality of our invisibility to the greater community, which is a denial of our existence, was made clear recently.

There has been controversy around the potential for homophobia at the Edmonton Reggae Festival. Public conversations and decisions on how to address the issue completely excluded the people most immediately affected: Caribbean and Black LGBTQ Edmontonians.

We were not afforded time to gather, find out what was happening and what could happen, strategize for our safety, and speak with our counterparts, LGBTQ Jamaicans, on how to act in solidarity with each other.

Black LGBTQ Edmontonians were not approached for our perspectives in the article by the Gauntlet about homophobic headliners. We were not consulted in the filing of a complaint to Edmonton Police’s Hate Crimes Unit or the CTV report about that complaint. We were not directly addressed in Edmonton Reggae Festival’s initial response to public concern around homophobia (please see the positive progress we’ve made in our Joint Press Release). We watched major sponsors and the general public pull their support for the Edmonton Reggae Festival with no mention of how to safeguard LGBTQ humans near and far from backlash.

These conversations happened about us, without us.

All of these actions were taken in haste before seeking, asking and listening to the voices of Black LGBTQ Edmontonians about how to honour BOTH our blackness and queerness. The public attention and resulting outrage on all sides has made no mention of what was needed in the first place: visual, measurable, and lasting support for Caribbean and Black LGBTQ everywhere.

Those of us in Edmonton who felt most safe to shout began shouting that WE EXIST. We should be speaking at the center of any conversation that affects us most.

We are finding each other. We are organizing. We have different backgrounds and opinions but we agree that we need safer spaces to celebrate our blackness and our queerness.

If you agree with us please support this crowd fund.

If you are a Caribbean and/or Black person who self-identifies as LGBTQ you know best what supports you need for your empowerment. Please contact us.

One Love,

Black Queers of Edmonton
[email protected]

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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