Day of Pink is not something I would have supported as a kid. I was moody, angry, isolated– so queer and trans and brown that neither the queer nor trans nor brown kids knew how to hang out with me. I was too brown for the white kids, too queer for the brown kids, too trans for everybody. Of course there came the bullying– the stares, the derisive laughter, the lonely lunches, the long list of not-my-names, my face shoved in sand, my bloodied knuckles, my split lips. I didn’t believe that “just talking about it” was going to help me at all. Even if I stood up to them, it wouldn’t give me what I needed.
I found that in university. I found that years later, a poet during Pride, when I first opened for Kalyani Pandya and saw a queer brown artist like myself, pouring out her heart on stage, so funny and heartwrenching and utterly relate-able. She had gone through similar hells, had come out the other side, had flourished, glorious and dark. In that moment, foreshadowing all the other queer brown role models that would grace my life, Kalyani Pandya gave me what I needed. She gave me a reason to keep going. She gave me someone like me; someone who understands my life, my struggles, my desires, my dreams.
Day of Pink isn’t just about stopping discrimination and oppression. It’s also about thriving and offering a life full of possibility and potential, where the fullness of who you are is celebrated without quarter or compromise. In this town of Ottawa, where a mural for Black, Indigenous and trans women of colour had been defaced, where colonialism continues against the Algonquins and their Two Spirit people on this land, their unceded territory, it’s important to celebrate role models like Kalyani Pandya, Kim Katrin Milan, and local artists within the spectrum of QTBIPOC (Queer and/or Trans Black/Indigenous/People of Colour) because they are beacons for all those out there who are just like me or the kid that I was, who needed more than a conversation about anti-bullying. We needed to see a way out, we needed to see a future that looked like us and had a room for us.
Like Kimberly Williams Crenshaw said, “If we aren’t intersectional, some of us, the most vulnerable, are going to fall through the cracks.”
This Day of Pink, come out and celebrate intersectionality with us, and support local artists Ashley Grenstone, David White Deer Charette, Debby, Don Kwan, Melody McKiver, Mikki Bradshaw, Rob Friday, and Rosy. I know I’ll be there, not just to wear pink, but to support the kid I was, and the people that helped me be the adult I am today.
Join me on April 13, 2016 at the Horticulture Building (Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, Algonquin Territory) at 6:30pm for the International Day of Pink Gala.