BREAKING SILENCES: A Caribbean LGBTQ People of Color Symposium



Caribbean Equality Project, DBGM, University of Toronto, Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention, & Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, presents:

BREAKING SILENCES: A Caribbean LGBTQ People of Color Symposium

This one-day symposium focuses on immigration, HIV/AIDS, gender identity, family acceptance, faith, and the mental health of Caribbean LGBTQ diasporic communities, with presentations, panel discussions, cultural performances, and supportive resources.

🗓 When: Saturday, September 22, 2018

🇨🇦 Where: Buddies in the Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St, Toronto, ON M4Y 1B4, Canada

Time: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM

ℹ️ Registration – 9:30 AM

🎬 Conclude/End – 5:00 PM

🍱 Breakfast and lunch will be provided to registered attendees. Registration is required.

Guest Registration Link: bit.ly/BreakingSilencesRegistration

Panelist Participant Link: bit.ly/BreakingSilencesParticipants

For more information or contact: info@CaribbeanEqualityProject.org


🗣 Keynote Speaker: Jason Jones, International LGBTQ+ Human Rights Activist


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Jason Jones is a LGBTQ+ human rights defender from Trinidad & Tobago whose activism work spans over three decades but most recently has been working to challenge the anti-sodomy laws in the Caribbean nation. He began as a student newly arrived to London, marching on the anti-Section 28 marches in 1988. Returning home in 1992, he became board member and founder of two LGBTQ+ advocacy organisations in Trinidad & Tobago. In 1996, he returned to London and served on the board of the United Kingdom Lesbian & Gay immigration Group which won the right of abode in the UK for the overseas partner of an LGBTQ+ UK citizen where he and this then partner were one of 40 test cases at the Home Office which brought about this landmark win for LGBTQ+ people. During this time, he became apart of a great deal of political lobbying, community advocacy and has been committed to organizing successful campaigns that have created  meaningful transformations for LGBTQ+ people. “Judicial decrees may not change the heart; but they can restrain the heartless.”

In Jason Jone’s words: “the narrative of the T&T population (similarly throughout the English speaking Caribbean and the thirty-seven Commonwealth States that still criminalise homosexuality using old British Colonial era laws), is that LGBTQ+ human rights, is an imperial, neo-colonial (white) import, designed to bring “Sodom & Gomorra” to our shores and destroy the nation.

As with thirty-six  nations that are former colonies of Britain, Trinidad and Tobago continues to be governed by the “buggery” law which criminalises same-sex relationships. These laws state that you can be jailed for up to twenty-five years (increased in 1986 to ten years from the original fifteen years imposed during colonial times). The Government and lawmakers say that this law is no longer used punitively against the LGBTQ+ community UNLESS in conjunction with a more serious charge, BUT right NOW there is a case before the courts and the gentlemen is charged with no other “crime” except BUGGERY. I have asked the Ministry of Legal Affairs for figures on prosecutions using the buggery law and they told me that they “don’t keep those figures”.

So it is quite clear how HUGELY important it is for my challenge to win, and to win RESOUNDINGLY! We must then use that success to forward progressive change in our neighbouring countries such as: Antigua, Barbuda, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, St Vincent, and the Grenadines. My win in Trinidad and Tobago can be used as a strong catalyst to direct parliamentarians in these small island states to decriminalise through their Parliament, rather than the expensive and internationally damaging process of law. These fragile, small economies depend on tourism, and a high profile human rights case similar to mine, would undermine their profiles as island paradise tourism destinations, as we are seeing happen in the Maldives and Bermuda.

I will continue to be liaising with local activists and allies, to gather together a team with which to develop and deliver my concept for a new human rights organization for the entire English Speaking Caribbean.

My historic legal challenge was heard at the High Court of Trinidad & Tobago on January 30th 2018, and the historic judgement will be handed down on April 12th 2018.”


Panel I.: "Queering Caribbean History, Immigration and Diaspora Politics"

Moderator

  • Dr. R. Cassandra Lord, University of Toronto, Mississauga

Panelists

  • Mohamed Q. Amin, Caribbean Equality Project

  • Dr. Beverly Bain, University of Toronto, Mississauga

  • Maurice Tomlinson, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

  • Ryan Persadie, University of Toronto

Description

This panel will unpack the experiences, lived realities and narratives related to the politics of belonging in  the Canadian diaspora. As queer Caribbean identities are negotiated through immigration, diasporic citizenship, kinship and a rootedness to “homelands”, the main objective of this discussion will be to explore what it means to be queerly Caribbean in diaspora. We will discuss how transoceanic/-national circulations, crossings and movements of LGBTQ+ gender and sexuality move geographically across borders, and inform our intersectional identities. As Stuart Hall (1990) discusses, cultural identity constitutes "who we really are", and "what we have become" and must be understood as a matter of becoming as well as being. In discussing where, we - queer, Caribbean diasporic communities - are now and are going, this conversation will explore the trajectories, lineages and histories of queer Caribbean identity, advocacy, activism, transgressions and resistance from homeland to diaspora. In the context of Canada, this conversation may draw upon the relationships between (neo)colonialism, heteronormativity, homonormativity, racism, white supremacy, anti-blackness, class, gender, ethnicity, etc. and unpack how these interconnected discourses, identity markers, powers and oppressions impact the lives of LGBTQ+ Caribbean-Canadian communities.

Themes/Concepts

  • Human rights for LGBTQ people in the Caribbean

  • Faith, acceptance and being "out" in the Caribbean

  • The politics of "pride" in the Caribbean and Canada

  • The removal and erasure of queer of colour bodies, spaces and representation in Canadian discourses of pride

  • Queer activism in the Caribbean

  • Queer, Caribbean organizing in diaspora

  • Transnational, queer Caribbean genders, sexualities

  • Diaspora politics and the desire to "belong"  

  • Homonormativity and anti-blackness in queer Canada

  • LGBTQ+ Afro- and Indo-Caribbean tensions, and relationships in queer organizing  

  • Histories of queer Caribbean activism in Toronto

  • Pride celebrations in the Caribbean

  • Trajectories of Queer Caribbean “Liberation”, “Freedom” and Acceptance



Dr. R. Cassandra Lord (she/her) Moderator

R. Cassandra Lord is an Assistant Professor of Sexuality Studies at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, specializing in black diasporic queer culture (Canada/US and the Caribbean), Black/feminist theory, transnational feminism, critical geographies of race, space and place. She is currently working on her book manuscript titled Performing Queer Diasporas: Friendships, Proximities and Intimacies in Pride Parades.


Mohamed Q. Amin (he/him/his)

Mohamed Q.. Amin is a pioneering Indo-Caribbean Muslim Gay Rights activist native of Guyana, who currently resides in Richmond Hill, NY. On the eve of the 2013 Manhattan Pride Parade, Amin and his siblings were attacked for being members of the LGBTQ

community in their Southeast Queens neighborhood. In response to anti-LGBTQ hate violence, he founded the Caribbean Equality Project (CEP), a non-profit Caribbean LGBTQ organization based in Queens, NY. As a passionate advocate for human rights and gender equality, Mr. Amin has been profiled in The Village Voice, Voices of NY, mashable.com, Caribbean Life Newspaper, Southeast Queens Press, Times Ledger, and the West Indian Newspaper. Following the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting, Mr. Amin’s relentless advocacy to uplift Queer Muslim voices were recognized with a Proclamation from the New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at NYC Council 2016 Eid ul-Fitr Celebration and he received a Citation of Honor from the Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and New York City Council Members Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer at the 2016 Queens Borough Hall LGBTQ Pride Month Celebration. Mr. Amin was also honored with a Proclamation by NY State Senator James Sanders Jr. at the 2017 "Women Makes History" gala in recognition of his leadership, community organizing and fearless advocacy in New York State 10th Senate District.

Amin has organized and led various LGBTQ educational community engagement forums, participated in panel discussions and conducted informative presentations at schools and community organizations aimed to break the silence on Caribbean LGBTQ issues. He is the first Indo-Caribbean LGBTQ activist to be featured on BRIC TV, an award-winning cable TV network and on the International TV show, “Let’s Talk with Lakshmee.”

Amin is a graduate of the New York City Anti-Violence Project’s Community Leadership Institute and Speaker’s Bureau: Intensive Organizing Training. He received B.A. from Queens College in Economics and has 13+ years of management and finance experience in the competitive Retail Banking industry where among his many responsibilities he managed customer relations, office operations, and provided an array of financial services. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Mental Health Counseling at his alma mater, Queens College.

As founder of the CEP, Amin applies his professional expertise as well as his drive for human rights, ending gender-based and anti-LGBTQ hate violence, racism, anti-transgender violence, and dismantling systems of oppression. To date, CEP is the only educational-based agency serving the Caribbean-American LGBTQ community in NYC and is dedicated to cultivating a supportive and progressive Caribbean community free of violence, oppression, and discrimination. The CEP achieves their mission through empowerment and visibility in educational, social and culturally infused organizing and advocacy.


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Dr. Beverly Bain (she/her)

Professor Bain teaches in Women and Gender Studies in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She currently teaches and researches in the area of Caribbean and black diasporic sexualities, black and Caribbean queer feminist organizing, sexual assault and violence against women, gender, colonialism, transnationalism and anti-capitalism. Bain is the author of “Fire, Passion and Politics: The Creation of Blockorama as Black Queer Diasporic Space in the Toronto Pride Festivities.” In We Still Demand: Defining Resistance in Sex and Gender Struggles. Edited by Patrizia Gentile, Gary Kinsman and L Pauline Rankin. UBC Press, 2017. Uncovering Conceptual Practices: Bringing into Lived Consciousness Feminist Activities on the Toronto Police Services Sexual Assault Audit” Canadian Women Studies (2010). Bain is currently working on a series of essays on Black radical feminist queer organizing in Toronto from the 80’s to the present.


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Maurice Tomlinson (he/him)

Maurice Tomlinson is a Jamaican attorney and senior policy analyst with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.  At the Legal Network, Maurice collaborates with local groups to challenge anti-LGBT laws and practices in the Caribbean.  He acts as counsel and/or claimant in cases challenging anti-gay laws before the most senior tribunals in the Caribbean, authors reports to regional and UN agencies on the human rights situation for LGBT people in this region, conducts judicial and police LGBT- and HIV- sensitization trainings, and organizes and hosts visibility events such as Montego Bay Pride, and convenes dialogues with religious leaders about the rights of LGBT people.  In 2012, Maurice received the inaugural David Kato Vision and Voice Award, which recognizes individuals who defend human rights and the dignity of LGBT people around the world.


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Ryan Persadie (he/him)

Ryan Persadie is an educator, PhD student in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto and co-organizer of Breaking Silences. He holds a MA in Ethnomusicology and Sexual Diversity Studies from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). His research investigates the interrelations of Trinidadian soca (and soca-chutney) music, queer diasporic Carnival spaces, drag culture, queer Indo-Caribbean diasporas and identities, and the politics of belonging, citizenship and “pride” in Canada. In addition, Ryan is also a practicing drag artist in Toronto where he goes by the name of “Tifa Wine”. His community work, research and performances as Tifa Wine work to offer a queered expression of his diasporic positionality and forefront and center the experiences, narratives and voices of the Indo-Caribbean in both diasporic Caribbean and queer spaces.


Panel 2: Mental Health, Stigma and Wellness in Transnational Caribbean Contexts

Moderator

  • Savitri Persaud

Panelists

  • Adam Benn

  • Dr. OmiSoore Dryden (HIV Treatment Network,Thorneloe University)

  • Marcus Kissoon, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine

  • David DK Soomarie (BlackCAP)

Description

Discussions surrounding mental health, illness, stigma, HIV/AIDS, and madness are often censored, silenced and are regarded as “taboo” in many Caribbean communities and their diasporas. Yet, as Arthur et al. (2010) have attested, derogatory and ableist language such as “mad”, “sick”, “head nah good” commonly permeates daily life and has become embedded in Caribbean popular culture and vernacular mediums. Tropes and stereotypes such as these  perpetuate a number of harmful, violent and problematic assumptions regarding issues of health and wellness and furthermore, are often conflated with queerness and LGBTQ+ identities. Who is deemed “mad” and/or “sick” and why? How do the intersections of religion, queer politics, and diasporas impact the lived realities for those struggling with mental health and/or HIV/AIDS? How is the “nation” complicit, both in the Caribbean and Canada, in the criminalization, victimization and oppression of those who are rendered “mad”, “sick”, “unwell” and queer? The objective of this community conversation is to bring forth Afro- and Indo-Caribbean perspectives together to unpack the racialized, gendered, classed and queered implications of health, stigma and wellness among diasporic Caribbean communities. Furthermore, we will discuss how we can forefront and unveil the shadow of silence over these controversial yet, salient issues affecting our communities. We would like to make our audience aware that conversation regarding rape culture, domestic abuse, violence against women and other triggering discussion points may come up during this conversation. We offer this trigger warning for the self-care of all of our panelists and audience members.

Themes/Concepts

  • Criminalization of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and Caribbean diasporas

  • HIV/AIDS Advocacy, Support and Resources in Caribbean and Canada

  • Mental Health Advocacy in the Caribbean

  • Treatment of Mental Health

  • Mental Health and Stigma in Caribbean Popular Culture and Media

  • Violence against Women and Domestic Abuse

  • Rape Culture in the Caribbean

  • Indo- and Afro-Caribbean discourses surrounding health and wellness

  • Unpacking Madness in Caribbean contexts

  • Issues of Ableism and Disability among LGBTQ+ Caribbean Communities

  • Historicizing the HIV/AIDS crisis in the Caribbean

  • The Racialization of Madness and Mental Illness Stigma in the Caribbean and its diasporas

  • Blood Donation in Canada and the Caribbean Toronto community

  • Mental Health and Wellness among Caribbean Trans identities

  • HIV-Positive Rights in the Caribbean and Canada

  • Queer Health and Access to Resources


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Savitri Persaud (She/Her/Hers) -Moderator

Savitri PERSAUD is a PhD candidate in the department of Social and Political Thought at York University. Her doctoral dissertation examines discourses of mental health & madness; disablement; and violence in Guyana, the Caribbean, and Caribbean diasporas. Savitri is a proud daughter of sugarcane cutters. She was born in Georgetown, Guyana and spent part of her childhood in Moblissa, located off of the Linden Highway; and in Belle Vue, West Bank Demerara, before migrating to Toronto, Canada.


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Adam Benn

Adam Benn is a black and queer activist, born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He has had the privilege of working with youth in many communities across Toronto. Currently, works as the Manager of LGBT2SQ Community Programs at Sherbourne Health . Adam's completed a M.A in Conflict Analysis and Management at Royal Roads University and a M.Ed. in Adult Ed. at OISE.


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Dr. OmiSoore Dryden (she/her/hers)
OmiSoore H. Dryden, PhD is an interdisciplinary scholar who examines the queerness of Blackness, symbolics of blood and the “social life” of blood donation. Dryden’s research interrogates the narratives about Black life, health, illness, and belonging that are embedded in the systems and tools of blood donation, including screening questionnaires. Dryden has published in peer-reviewed journals and edited book collections, and has an edited collection (with Dr. Suzanne Lenon) titled, Disrupting Queer Inclusion: Canadian Homonationalisms and the Politics of Belonging (UBC Press, 2015). Dr. Dryden is the Principal Investigator of a two-year research project that seeks to identify the barriers African/Black gay, bisexual, and trans men encounter to donating blood in Canada, and also analyzes how anti-black racism, colonialism, and sexual exceptionalism shapes contemporary understandings of HIV transmission.


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Marcus Kissoon (he/him)

Mr. Marcus Kissoon is a board member of the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women and a member of the Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago/ Coalition Against Domestic Violence for over 10 years.

At age 19 He joined the civil society movement working on women, gender and youth issues with a great emphasis on sexual crimes. He notes it was not easy, being a young male in an environment dominated with women’s issues but he persevered and continued helping many young school girls and concerned parents and relatives of children and women who were sexually assaulted. His activism allowed him to see a need for young people and men to be involved in the movement to end sexual violence and stereotypes of sexual crimes.

Mr. Kissoon has a background in Social Work allowing him to practice trauma counselling and behaviour change via national policy and community outreach. Some policies that he has worked on at a state level are the National youth policy, National Gender Policy and the Domestic Violence Act, which is now being revised.  Marcus’s most recent activism has focused on global sexual crimes and dynamics in other cultures such as Suriname, Jamaica, USA, and Romania. He conducted action research in Romania on a person’s living with disabilities and sex worker’s diaspora in the Caribbean.

Currently, as well Kissoon is focusing on marginalized youth living with and affected by HIV and male victims of rape. His passion for ending sexual crimes has influence his experience after several years in a rape crisis center, men are affected by sexual assault but the infrastructure and gender socialization was not there to support them.  He is determined to give the men who are suffering from childhood traumas a safe space.

He is currently a Post Grad Student and Research Assistant at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies’ Break the Silence campaign at the UWI. Also, he is the psychosocial support consultant for LINKAGES/FHI360, working with key populations and their emotional and social welfare needs.  He is currently researching the “Processes of Disclosure and Male Indo-Trinidadian Child Sexual Abuse Survivors' Masculine Ideals and Gender Negotiations”. Kissoon is a recipient of a National Youth Award Trinidad and Tobago-2012 and recipient of the finalist award of the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work 2015.


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David Dk Soomarie (he/him/they/them)

Having worked for close to a decade in advertising as a copywriter/producer, David Dk Soomarie made a conscious decision to give back to the community of people living with HIV/AIDS 6 years ago. As a person living with HIV for close to 20 years, he personally felt that the face of HIV had to be challenged and that the public needed to know that people living with HIV are healthy and productive individuals, fully capable of living long and healthy lives. As a result he became public about his HIV status.

In late 2009, he became a board member of Community Action Resource (CARe), an organization which he credits for helping him cope with his HIV diagnosis. In May 2010, he assumed the role of interim coordinator of Community Action Resource (CARe) and became the Coordinator, Programmes & Services of the organization. His work has been featured in UNAIDS “Keeping Score” Publication and FPA annual report 2010. In August 2016, he came to Canada to talk about his activism work in Trinidad. He has since migrated to Canada, and is one of the MSM Outreach Coordinators at BLACK CAP, volunteers with ASAAP and is a member of CAAT (Committee for Accessible Aids Treatment). He has also written articles for POZLite, an online magazine. He runs two groups at BLACK CAP, one of which QPOZ is a support group for ACB Queer, MSM and Gay men living with HIV.


Panel 3: Being Queerly Caribbean: The Politics of Queer Authenticity and ‘Coming Out’

Moderator

  • Dr. Alissa Trotz, University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Panelists

  • Detoxx Busti-ae, LGBTQ Activist & Drag Queen, NYC

  • Dr. Wesley Crichlow, University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology

  • Mark-Ché Devonish, The Rude Collective

  • Lauren Pragg, York University, LGBT Youthline

  • Jordyn Samuels, University of Toronto, Journeys in Equity

Description

Amidst great strides in the Caribbean to advocate for LGBTQ+ human rights, what does it mean to be queerly Caribbean in 2018? What does a queer Caribbeanness look like and how is it negotiated? How does it operate differently in Indo- and Afro-Caribbean contexts? How have queer Caribbean spaces and communities developed and formulated in diaspora?  This community conversation will aim to bring Indo- and Afro-Caribbean perspectives, narratives, experiences, theorizations and communities together to answer some of these questions. The Caribbean region is often essentialized by the queer, Western mainstream as a homo-, queer-, and transphobic region, and as anthropologist David Murray (2002) suggests, is imagined and theorized as a heteronormative place, that provides no room or space for queerness to exist. Yet, in Canada and the US, the myth of queer “liberation” is heavily contested as issues of queer belonging, citizenship and “arrival” are driven by structural divides among racial, gender, ethnic, and classist differences. How do we negotiate our queer Caribbeanness in diaspora when the “gay international”, as coined by Massad (2002), or powers and institutions of cisgender white queerness become the central voice and representative of all LGBTQ+ communities? How do Caribbean queers negotiate their sexual and gender identities when queerness is defaulted as white? What about those who cannot come out? Are they no longer queer?

Themes/Concepts/Questions

  • Identify and disidentifying as “queer”

  • Lived realities of queer bodies in the Caribbean

  • Caribbean Pride celebrations

  • The Politics of Coming Out and Queer Authenticity

  • Homonationalism and Homonormativity

  • Queer of Colour Politics in Diaspora

  • Living in the “closet”, the “downlow” in the Caribbean and its diasporas

  • Intersections of faith and queerness

  • Queer Afro- and Indo-Caribbean Masculinities/Femininities

  • Coming Out as Trans

  • Transphobia in the Caribbean

  • Trans Rights and Advocacy in the Caribbean

  • Caribbean Lesbian identities

  • Gender Non-Conforming and Non-Binary Caribbean identities


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Dr. Alissa Trotz (She/Her/Hers) -Moderator

Dr. Alissa Trotz is an Associate Professor who has taught in the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies at OISE and is currently cross-appointed to Women and Gender Studies (WGSI) and the Caribbean Studies Program at New College. Following a year of law school in the Caribbean, she completed her BA (Hons) at York University, and her MPhil and PhD at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. A Research Fellow at the Centre of Latin American Studies at Cambridge and a Queen’s National Scholar in Women’s (now Gender) Studies at Queen’s University, she joined the University of Toronto in 2000.

Her research interests draw on the Caribbean and its diasporas as a point of departure for exploring the wider resonance of questions that emerge from the incredibly complex site of colonial encounter that comprises this region. She also edits a weekly column, In the Diaspora, in a Guyanese daily The Stabroek News.


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Detoxx Bustiae
Detoxx Bústi-ae is one of the only Jamaican Drag Entertainer currently living in the melting pot of the worlds (New York City). Detoxx goes by the pronouns of she/her when in drag and he/him when out of drag. Detoxx has been a drag entertainer  for almost 10 years in New York City and the tri state areas. Detoxx hopes to bring her unique style of being a NYC Queen with a Jamaican twist across the world. When not in drag, Steven works for the Candy Queen Dylan Lauren at Dylan’s Candy Bar.  
Social media @detoxxbusti_ae on Facebook/instagram/YouTube and @iamdetoxx on Twitter.


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Dr. Wesley Crichlow

Dr. Wesley Crichlow is Professor, Associate Dean of Equity, Chair President’s Equity Taskforce, and Director for Engagement and Recruitment for Black Youth in Care, in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, in the youth and criminology specialization, at the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology.

His many years of scholarly and community engagement have engendered trust, credibility, and respect. His teaching, research, public lectures, and workshops have focused on the challenges to implementing policies and practices that strengthen gender, queer, critical race theory, anti-black racism, anti-racism, Black youth studies, and critical equity studies as well as broader notions of diversity and social justice within educational institutions and organizations across Canada. He is also committed to working across borders, connecting the spaces between the Caribbean and Canada, as well as unsettling the uneven terrain. This is evident in his book Buller Men & Batty Bwoys: Hidden Men in Toronto and Halifax’s Black Communities (University of Toronto Press, 2003), in the Caribbean Review of Gender Studies special issue on Black Caribbean hyper masculinities, which he co-edited, Weaponization & Prisonization of Toronto Black Youth.


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Mark-Ché Devonish

Mark-Che Devonish is a queer, poly, Trinidadian man who has lived in Canada for 5 years. He is the founder and one of the head coordinators at The Rude Collective- a queer community-based arts collective based in Toronto, focused on curating work by marginalised artists of colour and creating hybrid art showcases and dance party events in unconventional venues in the city. He uses this platform to amplify the voices of artists of colour in the city. He was a research and policy analyst for one of Canada’s only LGBTQI2S human rights organization where he specialised in Legal Issues, Justice and International Development- viewed through an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, trauma informed lens. Whether it be curating Rude’s signature art showcase and dance party events, hosting a queer soca fete or creating space for club and ballroom music lovers he always finds himself busy dancing, cooking, biking or liming around the city.


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Lauren Pragg (they/them)

Lauren Pragg is the child of Trinidadian born parents who immigrated to Toronto in the 1970s. They grew up in Scarborough, ON and still lives in East Toronto. They acknowledge the authority of the Indigenous guardians of the land they live on, as well as the Two Row Wampum and the Dish With One Spoon convenant. They hope to live in such a way to honour the land and peoples whose land they are a guest upon.

Lauren has over 10 years of experience in graduate school studying Caribbean feminist thought, postcolonial theory, and sexuality. They have also spent many years involved in community work with organizations such as Planned Parenthood Toronto and Shameless Magazine.


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Jordyn Samuels (she/her)

Jordyn Samuels is a University of Toronto graduate who double-majored in Equity Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies. Sharing a mix of lived experience, community knowledges and academia, she has shared education in the areas of equity, anti-oppression, social justice and LGBTQ awareness for the past twelve years. She has been a member of Supporting Our Youth’s – Human Rights Equity Access Team since 2010 and has also worked with Planned Parenthood of Toronto, Toronto Public Health, Griffin Centre and Breakaway Addiction Services and Youth Advocacy Training Institute. In 2016 Jordyn started a consultation company providing workshops, trainings, keynotes and curriculum development, which specializes in issues surrounding equity, anti-oppression, anti-racism and LGBTQ education, named Journeys InEquity. Through her work and continued studies, her aim is to use intersectional frameworks to normalize equity and access for those with marginalized identities and help work toward building safer spaces in communities, schools, workplaces and societies. She is happy to share space with you all on this day.