My name is Faye Estrella and I am the new Conference Coordinator at Jer’s Vision.
When I was a kid growing up in Toronto, I loved Anne of Green Gables and Captain Planet equally, and ate my dad’s home-made lumpia (Filipino spring rolls) like candy. I was also harassed constantly by adults and children alike because they couldn’t tell what gender I was.
By high school I was dating a girl on the cheerleading team while calling myself an androgyne (because I didn’t know the word “genderqueer” yet). She and I tried unsuccessfully to start a GSA in our alternative Catholic school.
While walking down those locker-lined halls, I dreamed of the day when kids like us wouldn’t have to be afraid or ashamed anymore. We would be celebrated, accepted, loved. It wouldn’t matter what gender and sexuality (or lack thereof) we expressed, and who we fell in love with. I guess I thought of myself as some kind of rainbow champion on a unicorn.
Ten years later, here I am, the Conference Coordinator at Jer’s Vision, driven by that same dream– though I don’t seem to have a unicorn (yet). I’m hoping to take the Dare to Stand Out Conference Program all over Canada, so that youth can rally together and be their own champions.
In 2011-2012, Jer’s Vision ran 15 conferences with over 3000 youth to address bullying, homophobia & transphobia in 6 regions (Eastern Ontario, Coastal British Columbia, Manitoba, Central Ontario, Northern Ontario, and Nova Scotia). My VISION is for us to grow the program to every corner of our country!
I write “us” because being a Conference Coordinator isn’t about having a shiny, cute title for me. I’m just somebody who serves a community, and I’m going to need your help and support so that these conferences make a difference in the lives of youth.
That means YOU! I came up with a couple of ideas on how you can help:
1-If you have ideas, advice, support, or want to partner with the program, please give me a call at the office at 613-400-1875 or email me at Conference@JersVision.org. Also, if you have counsel on how to make the content and space more inclusive, drop me a line.
2-I am revising our list of workshop presenters & keynote speakers, so if you want to make sure you’re on the list send me an email with your workshop and contact info! If you want to offer workshops, ranging anywhere from the intersectionality of oppression, asexual visibility, to gender diversity, give me a shout.
3-Make a donation to Jer’s Vision! We are looking for 500 donors to donate $5 a month. Every dollar you donate educates one youth in a school or sends them to a conference! Please support our work by becoming a monthly donor here, or make a one-time donation here.
4-Celebrate the Day of Pink and come to the annual Day of Pink/Jer’s Vision Gala on April 11, 2012 at 6:30pm at Tabaret Hall in Ottawa (75 Laurier Ave E). IT’S FREE, and will celebrate the work of the Hon. Jack Layton & Rick Mercer in addressing homophobia & transphobia in our community. (I even think Rick will do a Rant!)
The Jer’s Vision Dare to Stand Out Conference Program isn’t just working to constantly make itself a safer space, but a space of liberation. Working together, we can create a respectful, safe, and celebratory community. And for me, that’s better than being a rainbow champion on a unicorn any day.
PS-Find out more about me in the November 2011 Xtra cover story here.
new office: 440 Albert St, suite C304
Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative
Promoting diversity and ending discrimination
The international Day of Pink (April 11, 2012)
Sign up for 2012; and make a difference!