QMUNITY was founded in 1978, to advance LGBTQ2S+ equality at a time when acceptance and celebration of queer, trans, and Two-Spirit people was not at the levels we experience today.
The services are loosely understood within three pillars: support, connection and leadership. QMUNITY provides connection through age-specific programming for LGBTQ2S+ youth and seniors as well as a number of peer support groups that are both social and emotional in nature (eg. yoga classes, cooking club, and a bi-monthly tran gathering group). The Center supports communities through advocacy and access to services that might otherwise be inaccessible, like counselling and gender-affirming garments.
The leadership pillar ensures that the Center continually informs the cultural conversations happening about queer, trans, and Two-Spirit equality – thought leadership, media appearances and, most importantly, education and training.
“Our education & training department will facilitate over 100 workshops a year for health care professionals, educators and service providers to explore the ways in which services can be more inclusive for GBTQ2S+ community members.” – Joel Harnest, Education and Training Coordinator at QMUNITY
The impact that QMUNITY has on the community
QMUNITY is what happens when LGBTQ2S people searching for connection come together; the biggest impact relies on the ability to connect with one another, social and emotional bonds to counter isolation, and a strong sense of belonging. With social events, peer support groups, volunteer opportunities, and much more, QMUNITY is able to come together in an affirming and safer space.
The Resource Centre often talks about how they are a ‘community of communities’ – community members come from all around the world, intersecting with race, class and ability in a multiplicity of ways. More than anything, they believe many people in their communities, just by their sheer existence, resist the binary assumptions of gender and sexuality; simply by being alive and in their bodies, they are bravely pushing back against deeply held and ingrained assumptions many cultures have about gender, expression and orientation. QMUNITY also acknowledges that many in the community do not have the privilege, nor feel the safety, to be out. Their work is far from over.
Main concerns that people bring to QMUNITY
In respect to health care, many members share sentiments of being uncertain when accessing health services; professionals may make assumptions about them or their relationships; misgender their clients/patients; and/or use language that is inaccurate or insulting.
For decades, many of us have been conditioned to think of gender as two static and opposite concepts: man and woman. In reality, there is a huge diversity of ways in which people both identify and express their gender. Consider your own reflections of what you’ve been told is “manly” or “womanly” and how your actions, behaviours or expressions do or do not fit into those stereotypes. Similarly, we can start to see the many ways in which the binary model of gender and sexuality oppresses all of us, not just the LGBTQ2S+ communities!
While there are concerns when accessing health services, many members can recognize good intentions – if you are unsure of how to refer to someone, ask. Instead of labelling a body part as a “man’s” or “woman’s,” ask your patient what language might work best for them in order to feel dignified and safe. Remove gendered assumptions from your language and intake forms.
Many of these conversations have been happening within LGBTQ2S+ communities for years now, but the social permissibility to discuss these things has shifted quite drastically. Now we see this complex and nuanced discourse happening in education, employment standards, and health care. It can appear daunting and overwhelming, but you’re not alone! If you want to get in touch to explore the potential and diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity in your workplace, QMUNITY professional facilitators in education and training are here to help; reach out to chat! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 604.684.5307 ext. 115.