Photo Credit: Danielle Sobers.
A group that celebrates intersectionality and people with multilayered identities has started in Niagara.
QTBIPOC Niagara offers a safe space for those who are part of the QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) community.
Jermaine Marshall, Project Manager & Workshop Facilitator at Brock’s Human Rights and Equity, Shannon Kitchings, Human Rights and Equity and Ombuds Coordinator and Kelyn Best, a Sociology Major and Intercultural Mentor at Brock recently formed this exclusive group.
“The purpose of this group is to create a safe space for queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, people of colour within St. Catharines and the Niagara Region to connect, interact, build community, share resources and share unique issues of race, gender and sexuality,” said Marshall.
This new group is in its early stages. Currently, they are accepting new members and navigating the needs of the QTBIPOC community.
When Marshall moved to St. Catharines from Jamaica he noticed the lack of spaces for QTBIPOC members. After acknowledging the need for a safe space for this community, Marshall pursued creating one.
“An area can never truly be socially aware, socially woke or meet the needs of its populus if it does not meet the needs of all of its populus, especially its most oppressed groups,” said Marshall.
This group differs from other Pride groups because it is exclusive to QTBIPOC members. This exclusively ensures that traditionally marginalized voices are heard, respected and celebrated in a safe, accepting environment.
“The queer experience for people of colour is oftentimes radically different [than the experience of white 2SLGBTQ+ members],” said Marshall. “There are different nuances and complexities, there is a need to have spaces that are exclusively for these queer people of colour.”
Through creating an exclusive space, QTBIPOC Niagara hopes to open the doors to discussions revolving around the unique experiences of its members.
“In predominantly white spaces it can be difficult to bring up issues of race, like racism within the queer community and the experience of being a racial minority and queer. Oftentimes power dynamics do not allow for those ideas to flow freely,” said Marshall.
To ensure this space remains safe for QTBIPOC members, QTBIPOC Niagara is in the early stages of creating a code of conduct. This code of conduct will address the specific needs of the QTBIPOC community and will include safeguards to protect its members from hateful language or offensive comments within the group.
Although it is just beginning, QTBIPOC Niagara is already fostering community, building a safe space and offering resources to the QTBIPOC community.
Members interested can join through Facebook, via the official page “QTBIPOC Niagara.” There are two preliminary questions to ensure participants are part of the QTBIPOC community.