OUTniagara and Pride Niagara are separate not-for-profits working in the Niagara region with different mandates people involved.

While OUTniagara focuses on providing resources and education to Niagara’s 2S&LGBTQQIA+ people and communities, Pride Niagara strengthens the community through events. Both organizations advocate to improve the quality of life for 2S&LGBTQQIA+ people in Niagara.

No. While the acronym is somewhat comprehensive of some identities, it is definitely missing a wide range of labels and experiences. Many terms within this acronym act as their own umbrella terms. For example, asexuality often includes a much wider range of terms, such as demisexual, fraysexual, graysexual, etc.

Additionally, this acronym is restricted to some of the English words of diverse genders, gender expressions, and sexualities. In many languages and cultures across the world, there is a much longer list of identities, expressions, and experiences that do not fit into this acronym

Some believe that the ‘+’ means that all other genders, gender expressions, and sexualities are included, however, this symbol cannot be comprehensive of the different identities and experiences of people.

We absolutely agree that too often the acronym is used without a space being fully representative (or unfortunately in some cases welcoming) to folks who are less represented.

Unfortunately, this question is still far too common, especially in Niagara. This misconception causes harm and perpetuates violence against our communities at all levels. Basic achievements in human rights like the right to get married or the fact employers can’t discriminate based on gender or sexuality make many people assume that everything is okay and all other issues have been solved. However, these rights do not negate the fact that many legal protections are still missing and, in the case that legal rights do exist, they do not guarantee all people are welcomed, safe, or celebrated.

On a structural level, people in positions of power can implement laws and policies that reflect the idea that discrimination against 2S&LGBTQQIA+ people no longer exists and thereby miss a wide range of topics that affect our communities. For example, there are laws in place that protect kids from being kicked out of schools based on their gender identity or sexuality, however curriculum that includes examples and experiences of 2S&LGBTQQIA+ people is rarely prioritized, if it exists at all. This type of erasure, while a basic law exists, does little to empower 2S&LGBTQQIA+ students and creates increased opportunities for dismissal by students, staff, and faculty to dismiss a question or concern when it is raised.

The fact is many laws in place currently still disproportionately criminalize and discriminate against 2S&LGBTQQIA+ people. For example, laws that criminalize sex work will have greater effects on our communities, as there are many 2S&LGBTQQIA+ people currently working within the various sex work fields. Similarly, we know houseless/homelessness disproportionally affects 2S&LGBTQQIA+ people, and so any laws that deny rights to houseless/homeless people are denying rights to 2S&LGBTQQIA+ people.

We absolutely believe that allies have a role to play in improving equality and equity in our region, while also always ensuring that their involvement does not take away from prioritizing the voices of those who have lived/living experience.

The majority of the folks on OUTniagara’s leadership team identify as 2S&LGBTQQIA+, and are always discussing who is the most appropriate person to take on certain roles.

We hope that parents of 2S&LGBTQQIA+ people will take an active role in supporting and promoting this work (whether they personally identify or not).

It is very important that we understand allyship as a continuing process, and that just because a person identifies as an ally to one or more people or communities, that does not mean they are a default ally for everyone. Our aim while supporting the 2S&LGBTQQIA+ community is to provide tools to interested allies so that they can take action.