On June 13, 2005 the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line presented the seventh annual Youth Line Community Youth Awards at the Metro Central YMCA in Toronto. The awards recognize and honour lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer youth and queer youth serving agencies and groups in Ontario who have made outstanding achievements. This year twelve youth, including myself, were honoured with the award at a start-studded ceremony.
Each award recipient was allowed to make a one-minute speech. Most gave thanks to their parents, friends, family and community. Some made a few jokes, others gave veritable monologues and there were a few hell raisers that delivered scathing political commentary. My favourite speaker Gem Butler condemned the patriarchy, and violence against womyn. At the beginning of the event she handed out napkins with statistics about violence and oppression written on the back. She received a huge standing ovation. Another speaker, Bressica Reid, spoke up against capitalism in our society – the guys at the TD table did not look amused. In my speech I said something like this:
(Nathaniel) [Looks at the TD table] Gee, I owe you guys a LOT of money
(Melissa shouting from the audience) Who cares! Screw TD!
(Nathaniel) Hehe, well I guess I won’t be getting a job at TD anytime soon… I live up in Peterborough which is really like the frontline…
frontier of queer activism and culture in Ontario. It’s true! We don’t even have a Gap!
(Nathaniel) Not that I’d shop there if we did… In many ways it’s good to be queer in Canada today. We have many wonderful laws that strive to protect us from discrimination right up to equal marriage. However, we still have a long way to go. There’s a lot of gay bashing in Peterborough, a lot of violence against queers and of course this isn’t exclusively a Peterborough problem – it exists in towns all over Ontario. The anti-discrimination laws and equal marriage do not do us a lot of good if we can’t walk down our streets without the fear of violence.
It’s important that we take the time to honour our leaders who have taken political and social action against homophobia and the insidious complacency that allows it to persist.
(Nathaniel) Thank you and good night!
Youth Line is a telephone support service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, two-spirited, queer and questioning youth in Ontario.
It’s a service for and by youth that aspires to create an “empowering community of queer youth across Ontario.” Youth Line often represents the only queer support service available to youth in Ontario. The fact is queer people exist in every region of Ontario – not just Toronto. Although there are many wonderful queer organizations and support groups in large urban centres and university campuses they often fail to meet the needs of queer youth in our more remote regions. Youth Line provides community and support to queer youth everywhere in Ontario. Their website is: www.youthline.ca
Three weeks ago I was informed that I had won the award. I was nominated by my friends Melissa Webster and Jessie White who were informed about the award by their friend Ziysah who thought I would be the perfect candidate. For the last year I have been extremely involved in queer activism and leadership in Peterborough. I never expected to receive any kind of special recognition or awards for my work, I guess you could say it’s the icing on the cake!