“I remember when I was 18, I would have never imagined something like this happening,” said Tahatie Diabo. “Being a gay man, we’ve come a long way.”
On Wednesday, Kahnawa’kehró:non gathered in the Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS) parking lot to celebrate the queer and trans community and commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
The event, which ran from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., was organized in partnership with Kahnawake Collective Impact (KCI) and the prevention and support teams at KSCS.
In addition to the two local organizations, the West Island LGBTQ2+ Centre, Quebec Trans Health Action (ASTT(e)Q), and Indigiqueer Circle were among the organizations present and providing information.
“It’s very exciting, considering that it’s freezing out here and the snowflakes are falling,” said Indigiqueer Circle founder Diane Labelle. “People are still coming out and getting into the info, travelling around the booths, getting some food, talking to each other.”
Attendees enjoyed Rezican Tacos and James Day’s Haunted Dogs, free of charge.
“We always feed people. You have to feed the body as well as the mind, the heart, the soul,” said Labelle.
“We’ve had the chance to meet a number of young trans people who didn’t know an organization like ours existed, who are able to access information, and get our contact information,” said ASTT(e)Q coordinator Daphne Barile. “We’re looking forward to expanding our work here and responding to the needs of trans people in the community.”
According to Rebecca D’Amico, manager of child and youth wellness at KSCS, the event has been held in Kahnawake on May 17 since around 2017 and has grown every year since, aside from years lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. D’Amico said the idea for the event came out of a KSCS survey for LGBTQ2S+ Kahnawa’kehró:non, which demonstrated the need for more queer and trans resources.
“There weren’t really a lot of conversations happening about safe spaces for LGBTQ2S+ people,” said D’Amico.
“Now there’s other organizations and other events happening that highlight and celebrate gender and sexual diversity in the community.”
The event comes less than two weeks after Kahnawake announced its inaugural Pride parade. KCI had a booth set up at the event to provide Kahnawa’kehró:non with more information about the Pride parade, which is slated for June 24.
Karina Peterson, who works in communications at KCI, explained that the organization’s main goal at the IDAHOBIT event was to ensure that the community has access to information that is “well-sourced,” in accordance with their mandate to support youth health and wellness.
When it comes to the LGBTQ2S+ movement in town, Diabo described it as “a door that is open a little bit.”
“We definitely could be open a little bit more, just so future generations can bridge the gap between older generations and younger generations, instead of having so much animosity towards one another,” said Diabo.
Diabo was recently asked to help organize the parade. “To be a part of the first time it’s happening, I feel like I’m being a part of Kahnawake’s history, and I’m part of it in a way that’s very special to me,” he said.