By Greg Price
Class is now in session, and organizers of an upcoming education session in Queer 101 are hoping the learning curve results in better understanding and compassion for issues facing the LGBTQ community.
Taber Equality Alliance is presenting Queer 101 at the Taber Public Library on Nov. 16 from 6-9 p.m., a community education session provided by OUTreach Southern Alberta, which is committed to working together with local organizations and businesses to foster inclusion and establish equality throughout communities. The program aims to illuminate LGBTQ issues and foster growth and understanding with the in-service program for local organizations and businesses.
“I attended a session when FCSS (Family and Community Support Services) held one and it was very informative. They talk about gender and the science behind it with sexual orientation. They talk about how we as a community can be inclusive with diversity involving folks with different sexual and gender identities,” said Michael Rose, a member of the Taber Equality Alliance. “It’s making space for how we can be sensitive of that. They get into a lot of terminology which may seem mystical for some.”
As a married heterosexual man with children, Rose admitted he always used to cringe at people using the word ‘queer’, thinking that was a slur in the days of political correctness, but quickly learned it is now a preferred term by many members of the LGBTQ community.
“It feels like you are tripping through a mine field because you are not aware,” said Rose. “For some people, a term like queer, I like it as a great umbrella term. It’s a lot easier in conversation than saying LGBTQ-plus. But other people don’t like it because it was a derogatory term that was used back in the day to belittle and discriminate against,” said Jayce Wilson, who is transgendered. “But taking that word back can be empowering.”
Rose noted he was quite oblivious to some issues facing the LGBTQ community and the previous session he attended helped bridge that gap in understanding.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be a queer person, I don’t know of the challenges they face. It was a real eye opener for me,” said Rose. “Another thing for me I think that will be a real benefit with Queer 101 is you actually get to put faces and people to LGBTQ folks, so it is no longer an issue. These are real people, they may be our siblings, cousins, some living next door or what have you. They are real people with real feelings and issues. They also spend a lot of time talking about gender. We have this binary view of gender, but even the understanding of gender as a spectrum is more accurate of how humanity works itself out as opposed to this next packages of male/female.”
Jayce defines himself as transgendered, denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender. Jayce is also a-sexual, a person who is not interested in or does not desire sexual activity with either gender.