Arthur News School of Fish
Photo by Toni Reed on Unsplash.

CCGSD Community Consultation: The Empty "New Space"

Written by
Trevor James
March 20, 2020
CCGSD Community Consultation: The Empty "New Space"
Photo by Toni Reed on Unsplash.

The new National 2SLGBTQ+ Museum (a.k.a ‘New Space’) project is currently in its first step towards becoming reality. Consultations like the one that just passed are ongoing throughout all of Canada, looking for input from the 2SLGBTQ+ community nationwide. And this is just the first step of many, as the stories collected over the next year will go through two different review boards. From there, researchers will collect all of the stories and artifacts they can, which will then be handed over to a committee of experts at Carleton University, to be turned into the inaugural displays of the New Space.

The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) is also desperately seeking the membership and opinions of Indigenous Peoples and people of colour within the 2SLGBTQ+ banner. Though there are no heterosexual members of the organization, it is predominantly European-Canadian, and there is a danger of the history becoming whitewashed. The good news is the CCGSD isn’t blind to these facts. They know they have power; they know they’re flawed in terms of diversity and representation, and they don’t want to make the same mistakes as the institutions that once oppressed the 2SLGBTQ+ population. To combat the bias in the employee base and to seek wider perspectives, they started doing meetings like the one all of you missed on Wednesday, March 11.

A white cis-straight guy (ally or not) should not, by himself, account for over 13 percent of the audience of a meeting put on by a 2SLGBTQ+ NGO about creating a museum of the historical and contemporary struggle for 2SLGBTQ+ rights and representation. The meeting started with eight people, including the two presenters. Three more wandered in throughout the hours, and one person showed up at the very end.

My objective for this article was to go there to hear stories of our 2SLGBTQ+ community, but to my dismay there weren’t any shared. That’s what makes it hard to write this article, but worse, that makes it very hard for Peterborough/Nogojiwanong to have any voice in this upcoming National Museum.

During the meeting I heard one story about the Ottawa community and their history with the CCGSD. I heard it twice mentioned that Freddie Mercury should have a place of honour; and once, very briefly, we almost talked about PARN and the fight for outreach/support and against HIV/AIDS stigma in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong back in the late 80s, but it passed quickly.

Something I learned recently was that marginalized groups have to speak up, they need to take space. They need to represent themselves, or end up being represented by others. It’s a constant fight, but it’s a fight worth fighting.

Your individual story is an essential part of the fabric of your community. Use your voice for telling the stories of your friends who’ve been lost along the way. Your presence is what takes up space. If you’re not there to tell your story, it will go unheard – another thread lost. If you’re not present in the space, ground is being given up; your voice is going unheard.

First: here is the link to the Museum page. Through there, you can submit stories about you, and your 2SLGBTQ+ ancestors and relatives. Artifacts of times just recently passed, or of times long ago. Everything is on the page. If you happen to be a magnate’s heir/heiress hiding out amongst the student populace, you can donate too.

There’s also access to an online presentation, which should give you the gist of what was said, though with none of the context, community, or free pizza and cookies.

Second: Here is the Contact Info page. Have questions? Hit up the CCGSD.

And follow this third link so you won’t miss the next meeting, as should there be one. Perhaps use that last link to ask them to return.

Last link: "My Story." Now, for the artists of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Friends of artists, pay close attention: they’ll probably need you to do this on their behalf. This isn’t just a museum, it’s to be a breathing contemporary exhibit and a community centre. It’s supposed to feature modern 2SLGBTQ+ artists and rent out spaces to community members at exorbitantly low prices.

Arthur News School of Fish
Arthur News School of Fish

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