OUTniagara is a multi-faceted organization with many projects & partners being involved.
Use this FAQ to learn more!
A: OUTniagara was founded in 2004, with its primary mission being to:
- Celebrate, inform, support, and collaborate with the sexual- and gender-diverse community of Niagara
- Contribute to the success of our partner organizations
- Preserve Niagara’s queer history
A: Since relaunching in the past few years, OUTniagara has grown from a resource website to a dynamic organization offering the following:
- A Community Fund – allows for financial and organizational sponsorship for initiatives happening in the community. Sponsorships have included such things as event funding (e.g., The Coming Out Monologues hosted by OPIRG Brock) and funding requests from individuals for gender-affirming supports (e.g., chest binders)
- Participation in event organizing – Trans Day of Remembrance, Trans Day of Visibility, the 2SLGBTQ+ Film Series (tabling), support for municipal flag raisings, and pride crosswalks
- Culture Days Arts City – As a part of St. Catharines Culture Days in 2020, OUTniagara worked with local trans artists and musicians to host a workshop, online concert, and live Q&A
- Online Campaign – Humans of OUTniagara – semi-regular feature showcasing various members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities across Niagara
- Monthly Board Meetings – With a working board of directors (as opposed to a governance board) and now 2 staff members, the OUTniagara board meetings take place the first Monday every month
- Advocacy Work – Working with DSBN on concerns about sex education curriculum, issues of bullying and harassment of students; Support the Niagara Regional Council joined the Coalition for Inclusive Municipalities and addressing comments made by West Lincoln Mayor Dave Bylsma; establishing a Remembrance Day wreath honouring 2SLGBTQQIA+ veterans laid for the first time in Niagara.
A: OUTniagara is currently run by a volunteer board of directors composed of 9 community members. The board works through various sub-committees
A: The annual general budget is made up of annual membership dues and donations. Of membership dues, 50% goes to operational costs and 50%, as well as all donations, goes to our 2SLGBTQQIA+ Community Fund
In 2020, through a partnership with Bench Brewery in Beamsville, OUTniagara received a $5,000 donation, which went into the 2SLGBTQQIA+ Community Fund
A: Being a member of OUTniagara means you:
- Can vote at the Annual Meeting of Members;
- Are eligible to run for a position on the Board of Directors; and
- Can join Board working groups and committees that guide the organization’s work
A: We strongly encourage folks to keep up to date with volunteering opportunities through our website and social media
People can also stay most up-to-date by becoming a member, which also offers the opportunity to join one of the many committees of OUTniagara
A: OUTniagara and Pride Niagara are different not-for-profits working in the Niagara region with separate mandates and separate boards of directors;
The OUTniagara mandate is to foster a network of 2SLGBTQQIA+ organizations across the region;
Pride Niagara hosts a series of events throughout the year, which can be found at https://prideniagara.com/annual-events/;
For Pride In the Park, Pride Niagara is the primary organizer and OUTniagara has tabled at the event in the past;
OUTniagara and Pride Niagara work on some similar points of advocacy efforts in the region, which helps strengths collective efforts to improve quality of life for 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Niagara.
A: The 2SLGBTQQIA+ acronym stands for: 2S – Two Spirit; L – Lesbian; G – Gay; B – Bisexual; T – Trans*; Q – Queer; Q – Questioning; I – Intersex; A – Asexual/ Aromantic; + – all the gender identities, gender expressions, and sexualities that fall in between these letters
A: 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
A: 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.
A starting point for this work will be updating OUTniagara’s resources (website) to reflect ongoing efforts globally and locally around these issues (e.g., self-education resources, petitions, etc.)
A: 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 makes 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 2SLGBTQQIA+ 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 2SLGBTQQIA+ people is rarely prioritized, if it exists at all. This type of erasure, while a basic law exists, does little to empower 2SLGBTQQIA+ students and creates increased opportunities for dismissal by students, staff, and faculty to dismiss a question or concern when it is raised.
Resources on education & 2SLGBTQQIA+ people:
- LGBTQ ISSUES IN CANADIAN SCHOOLS | Pride & Joy Foundation
Furthermore, many laws in place currently still disproportionately criminalize and discriminate 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. For example, laws that criminalize sex work will have greater effects on our communities, as there many 2SLGBTQQIA+ people currently working within the various sex work fields. Similarly, we know houseless/homelessness disproportionally affects 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, and so any laws that deny rights to houseless/homeless people are denying rights to 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
Resources on houseless/homeless and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people:
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2S) | The Homeless Hub (video & article)
- LGBTQ2S Youth Homelessness in Canada | The 519 (Infographic & links)
We ask that all people promoting the idea that 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, or really any people from a marginalized group, should settle for what is currently good enough reflect on what kind of world they want to live in. Ask themselves why are we settling for any world where Black trans women are still killed at disproportionate rates, or where a person cannot go to the bathroom without having to prove some constructed gender markers.
No, this world is not good enough. And, yes, we will keep fighting.
A: People and communities across the 2SLGBTQQIA+ spectrum in Niagara are vast and complex, and it is no small undertaking to take on a region-wide project that aims to hold space for as many people and experiences as possible.
We are starting with building extensive contact networks so that our Community Strengths and Needs Assessment is as comprehensive as possible before moving forward on future parts of the project.
A: 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 the core organizing team identify as 2SLGBTQQIA+, and are always discussing who is the most appropriate person to take on certain roles.
We hope that parents of 2SLGBTQQIA+ 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.
If an ally wants to be involved in the project, it will be important for that individual to ask themselves why they want to be involved in the project, and if there is a way they can take on a support role without taking on a leadership position.