Luis Augusto Nobre
Communications Coordinator, Pride at Work Canada
Empowerment is a strong word, and its definition has a different impact on members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. Many of us, who self-identify as queer or trans people, have been seeking to move away from years of oppression, low self-esteem, and impostor syndrome. Decades of community engagement, advocacy and commitment haven’t been enough to ensure the recognition of similar rights as other identities have always had.
We cannot deny that the queer movements and some advancements to protect civil rights have given us stronger and more confident voices. However, it is still hard to feel heard. It seems that, despite all the collective efforts, only a few of us were given the opportunity to speak and share fractions of what is important for our communities.
We can notice that only a portion of the diverse members of queer and trans communities are represented, and probably tokenized, in media, such as advertisements, movies, the music industry, and television. Paying more attention to details, we will also notice the same approach for profiles inside business organizations and leadership roles, following some kind of pre-established rules of who can be allowed to get there, sort of a golden ticket.
Although one of the most common organizational campaigns to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace is to live our authentic selves, it seems that we have to keep adjusting ourselves to fit into those places designed for us, continuing to hide our own authentic identity to occupy the spaces like anybody else. The trick is here. We aren’t anybody else.
Our power comes from our lived experiences and challenges of being marginalized since our childhood, trying to survive no matter what. We have learned how to live with adversities and find support in each other as many of us haven’t had the support from our immediate families. We have learned how to build our communities to be more resilient, which doesn’t mean accepting peanuts and empty words. Queer and trans people are engaged to do more for our future, for the opportunities to recognize our talents and professionalism, and for changing the current realities.
So far, the advances aren’t enough as several of us are living under systemic oppression and facing its barriers. As only a small parcel of the 2SLGBTQIA+ professionals reaches the presented opportunities to our communities, the majority of us are underemployed or forced to work on degrading activities to survive. There are research projects showing data related to those employment differences by gender identities or sexual orientation. The reality goes beyond wage gaps and employment because even basic accesses to the health systems or housing rights are more complex for queer and trans people.
When we talk about empowering queer people, we have to recognize all the oppressive backgrounds and that the power should come from different sources. We have been conquering and advancing our rights since before the Stonewall riots in June 1969. The Pride celebrations are the recognition of some of our victories as well as a message that we won’t go back to oppressive rules and legislation.
Regardless of what is happening in some places where conservative policymakers are targeting our communities, we won’t surrender and give up our rights to living in freedom. Pride is not just a day or a month full of celebrations. It is the renewal of the public commitment of queer and trans communities to say that we are empowered to demand and to work for the recognition of our rights and for a better future. The process has already begun, and we do celebrate Pride all year long.