Grassroots 5: Five Awesome LGBTQIA-focused Missions in the City
June is Pride month. It’s hard to believe that we still need to dedicate a month to celebrate all forms of love and identity but we do. The world is collectively divisive on many important issues including the right to love whomever and the freedom to safely identify one’s gender. With the horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida last year to the ongoing hate crimes against individuals to the general uneasiness in the post-Trump era, we need LGBTQIA-focused missions even more now to continue fighting and celebrating.
We’ve compiled our list of LGBTQIA organizations in Toronto that are focused on providing one-on-one support, advocacy, professional networking, and providing a safe space to these communities.
Latin American Queer Education Project (LAQEP)
The LAQEP is an inclusive organization that endeavours to support all queer individuals within the Latin American community. The premise of LAQEP is to foster a safe space to discuss current issues at workshops, seminars, and events. Founded in 2015, the organization embraces all individuals who have an affinity with Latin American identity, recognizing that the history of Latin America includes colonization. They provide support in Spanish, Portuguese, English, Indigenous languages, and more.
Supporting Our Youth (SOY)
A youth-based organization, SOY recognizes the confusion, fear and uncertainty that youths experience when coming into their own and facing their family and peers. SOY provides support groups, one-on-one counselling, programs, and events for youth who are 29 years-old and under. Their mission specifically caters to this age group by fostering a safe space to grow, explore and find a sense of belonging.
Asexuality is not as prominent in LGBTQIA as other sexual orientations, which is why this particular organization is so important. Asexual Outreach provides those who identify as asexual visibility and recognition. The program provides local high schools across Canada and the US with resource kits for teachers and classmates to support ace inclusion. Their work with local communities also focuses on providing tools and training for group organizers so that their goal of eliminating marginalization among asexual individuals is further amplified.
PFLAG is a national organization with multiple chapters across Canada. The group provides a network of supporters who are accessible for anyone to talk and answer questions. The organization was originally founded by parents who wanted to understand children who identify as non-heterosexual. Families are able to share their personal stories of supporting their loved ones before, during and after the coming out process. The mission is truly a support system that goes beyond blood relations, and provides the comfort of knowing that the struggle is not an isolated one.
The Blackness Yes! committee is comprised of black queer and trans volunteers who celebrate pride and resist racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism, and colonialism. They also promote dialogue for HIV/AIDS through distributing educational resources. The committee and its volunteers are active in annual Pride festivals and year-round events in Toronto.