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National Coming Out Day celebrates acceptance, inclusion

By October 19, 2022No Comments
Jenson Brown, chair of the LGBTQ+ Society of Lloydminster (centre), speaks during a National Coming Out Day event at Grace United Church last Tuesday evening. Taylor Weaver Meridian Source

 

Understanding, inclusion, acceptance and love were the words to live by last week during a National Coming Out Day celebration in Lloydminster.

Last Tuesday, members of the LGBTQ+ Society of Lloydminster welcomed the community to Grace United Church from 7-9 p.m. to participate in National Coming Out Day activities, listen to guest speakers, and go through a coming-out experience in a safe space.

National Coming Out Day is an annual LGBT awareness day observed on Oct. 11 to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in “coming out of the closet.”

“The main push for National Coming Out Day is centring around the idea that homophobia thrives in silence,” said LGBTQ+ Society of Lloydminster chair, Jensen Brown.

“Unfortunately, when there are people who are scared to come out, that silence only deepens. When you have people in your circle of love who are out of the closet or who may be thinking about coming out of the closet or are questioning their identities and their authentic lives, then you start becoming better allies yourselves,” he said. “You start to actually watch what you say, you start empathizing a little more with what you might say and the intent in which it is said, that sort of thing.”

Brown also explained how National Coming Out Day originally followed the pride marches in 1987 and officially started a year later.

“The day was originally intended to celebrate those who have already come out, but over the last few decades it’s also come to encompass people who are out, people who are coming out and people who do not yet feel safe to come out,” he said. “It encompasses families that are working through a coming-out process and trying to find the best way to support their family member, and it also supports the people that are questing their authenticity and starting that journey themselves; to find out who they are and what is truth to them.”

Not only does Brown chair the LGBTQ+ society, but he is also a teacher at Winston Churchill School, a performer/board member of the local Slay the Nite YLL drag non-profit group, as well as the affirming support worker at Grace United Church. In his role at Grace United Church, Brown explained he helps ensure the affirmation team is walking the walk and talking the talk when it comes to inclusivity and being a safe place for everyone, no matter how they identify or what religion they follow.

“This is a safe space where people can ask any question they like. For example, we’ve had questions such as ‘can I ask someone how they identify,’ ‘how do I ask someone what kind of pronouns to use,’ ‘what does it mean to come out as A, B, C, D,’ ‘what does the acronym stand for,’ ‘are labels important, don’t they hurt more than they help.’ These are questions a lot of people have, and sometimes they hold them in, and there’s that silence again,” he said.

“They hold these questions in because they’re afraid of getting laughed at; they’re afraid of being offensive. This can lead to bigger issues because people end up not getting educated and can’t take steps along the journey of understanding and inclusion and acceptance and love. That’s what today is all about.”

For Brown, the hope is for participants to leave the event knowing he’s always there to answer any questions people may have.

“The ability to know there aren’t any dumb questions is so important,” he said. “People are genuinely asking these questions for a reason, and that’s because their heart is opened but their tongue might still be closed off out of fear, or out of the unknown.”

The LGBTQ+ Society of Lloydminster was formed in 2016 and the Border City’s first official Pride Week took place in 2017.