Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 23, 2010 - History made at 'Government House'

Well, history was made on July 23, 2010 in St. John's Newfoundland when Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable John Crosbie, hosted 50 members of the local LGBT community for a special private function at "Government House," (the official home of the Lieutenant Governor). This appears to be the first time in Canadian history that a political figurehead of this status has openly recognized, welcomed, and commended members of the LGBT community for their work by nature of hosting a special event. This is especially interesting news given that Crosbie has historically been very right-winged in his political ideologies. This also appears to be the first time ever that transsexual people had been invited to Government House, and i was honoured to be among the first.

The official occasion of this event was to recognize 'pride citizen of the year.' Although the award was ad hoc and informal in its creation by the team of volunteers that put together a series of pride events, their decision to give this award to Susan Rose was met with pretty much unanimous praise from dozens of community members.

Although I personally opposed the idea that Pride follow through with a by-invitation-only event of any nature, I can appreciate the positive value this event has brought, as Susan Rose said herself, "this is the opening of a significant door to the LGBT community" of Newfoundland.

It's actually rather sad how the event got finalized. The booking of an event was made well in advance, but the pride executive never got around to organizing a nomination process. In the end, a decision was made at the last pride meeting (among the 7 people in the room who attended), that we forgo such a process and just give the award to Susan, who in all honesty, would have probably won it anyway. A team of 5 people were then consulted regarding which 50 people should be invited (i was fortunate enough to have a say in the inclusion of a few special guests who had specifically made a significant contribution to the trans community of the province).

In the end, it was actually a lovely event that featured excellent speeches from Crosbie, Susan Rose, and emcee Gemma Schlamp-Hickey (who was asked by pride executive to emcee the event), as well as lovely tea and cookies. Government House itself is an amazing building to visit, that has lots of history. Depicted here is myself, Susan Rose, another LGBT community member, and Mr and Mrs Crosbie. What made this meeting with Crosbie even more interesting is that he conducted political business with my father back in the late 1980s and early 90s.

Anyway, if the unofficial entity known as Pride wants to start giving awards, i have suggested that at the very least, they should publicly recognize Susan Rose at the Pride parade, even though most standing in line at the parade had no say and no involvement in this event process.

Susan is definitely our #1 leader in terms of carving a legacy for LGBT people in this province, and i am excited to know that she and i will likely be working closely together in September when her organization Egale rolls out a phase if implimentations, that came from a report written based on what appears to be seriously-concerning homophobia and transphobia in our countries high school system.

Pride continued that night with a pub night that was hosted by a sister organization of pride, known as 'queerfare'. these folks organize a pub 'raid' where LGBT people all dawned purple outfits and attended a bar that is not commonly known as a LGBT hangout. nothing hostile here, just a bunch of queer people going to the pub, standing out, and having fun. unfortunatly, i was too tired to attend, but wished i could.


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