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"My queerness is my secret ingredient; it is the boom in my laugh, it is the warmth in my personality, and it is the resourcefulness in my work. It never leaves.”
"My queerness is my secret ingredient; it is the boom in my laugh, it is the warmth in my personality, and it is the resourcefulness in my work. It never leaves.”

"My queerness is my secret ingredient; it is the boom in my laugh, it is the warmth in my personality, and it is the resourcefulness in my work. It never leaves.”

This Pride Month, we asked the LGBTQ2S+ community within our network to share their experiences as part of both the queer and mental health landscapes. We also sent out disposable cameras and asked our participants to show us a day in the life. You can find Eleane’s photos over on our Instagram! Happy Pride!

"My queerness is my secret ingredient; it is the boom in my laugh, it is the warmth in my personality, and it is the resourcefulness in my work. It never leaves.”

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Eleane, Windsor ON, kickstarts our Pride 2019 campaign!
How does your queer identity intersect or affect your mental health?

My queerness intersects with every aspect of my life. I love everything about my queerness and who it has made me, but this was not always the case. The internalized homophobia I had to overcome and the teachings I had to unlearn to embrace my identity are some of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn. I owe a lot of my acceptance to my amazing queer friends who unapologetically love themselves and have been the role models of what this resistance should look like. I am eternally grateful to them for teaching me that pain does not have to harden you to the world. As someone who took 21 years to come out, I still have a lot of unlearning to do but I have never been happier with my relationship to myself. My queerness is my secret ingredient; it is the boom in my laugh, it is the warmth in my personality, and it is the resourcefulness in my work. It never leaves.


What is a change that you’ll be proud to see?

I will be the most proud of the queer community when we can find a way to combat our internal transphobia and anti-black racism. As a cis white-passing woman I am ignorant to much of the oppression faced by my trans and Black queer friends, but what I do know is that people who look like me in the queer community very often mirror the hatred we have experienced at the hands of homophobes when discussing the rights of our trans and Black queer friends. As a community that is seen as inclusive and loving, we have a lot of self-reflection to do around our understanding of gender and race as well as how they intersect with sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status. However, we can start by acknowledging this is a problem as well as having this conversation more openly and more frequently. Trans rights are human rights and Black lives matter! We owe our entire Pride movement to Black trans queer liberation activists such as Marsha P. Johnson and their passion for our rights to exist without persecution. Never forget that the first Pride was a riot and as we celebrate 50 years since Stonewall, we must remember that Pride has always been political despite rainbow capitalism.

What’s something about you that you wish more people knew or paid more attention to?

I wish people paid attention to the way I deliberately reject the white-washed identity and fetishization of Mestiza women. My ethnicity is ambiguous because I look white, which somehow makes people believe they can say racist things to me. However, it is through this whiteness that I question and slowly unravel the caricature that has been made of my people. Mestiza culture is beautiful as it incorporates the teachings and traditions of our Indigenous, African, and European ancestors. Yet, many people refuse to acknowledge all three distinct cultures that contributed to the society we have grown up in. Just as my queerness permeates all aspects of my life, so does my mestizaje. I am never only a woman, I am a Mestiza. I can never separate the two, not even through the grammar rules of Spanish. This experience grants me a unique view of the world that rarely gets heard in the media and that is often reserved for people who look like me. I do my best to ensure I use my platforms to highlight issues disproportionately affecting marginalized people in the Latin community such as colourism, mental health stigma, and homophobia.

What lifts you up when you are feeling down?

The easiest question of all! My plants and my cat fill up my cup like nothing else can. Being connected to another living entity that cannot communicate with natural language, but still expresses love in every way! Their physical form allows the kind of connection we are meant to have with our surroundings. I have over 20 different kinds of plants (roughly 30+ total with multiples) growing in my house and each one tells me what they need and expresses their gratitude through growth. This silent celebration of life reminds me to stay humble regardless of my success. The soft purr of my cat and his attentiveness to my emotions remind me that I have all the tools to communicate my needs whether I say them aloud or not. Humans were never meant to live in isolation from nature.

Who has made you feel the most supported?

Two of the first people I came out to are my Tia Maria and Tia Vicky. I have always felt safe and loved by them, so it only felt right to ease myself into coming out by starting with the people I knew would never turn my truth away. I told them both over coffee and kinda slid it into bigger conversations. To this day, their acceptance and support keeps me going because their love for me goes beyond all cultural, religious, physical, and societal boundaries. Without their support, I don’t believe I would have had the strength to stand in my own queerness as a bisexual Mestiza and celebrate my own resilience, the way that I can now.

Who is your Queero?

I have many heroes, and they are all my trans and non binary friends. Simply living life as a trans/nb person and refusing to conform to the expectations of society, which are often brutally enforced, is the most radical thing I can think of. I have learned so much about happiness, acceptance, humility, love, art, expression, and patience from my trans friends even when I didn’t deserve their time nor insights. The strength shown by my trans and nb friends is truly humbling, and I will never waiver in my solidarity for their inclusion in all aspects of society. Trans rights are human rights.

~

Over the next two weeks we will be showcasing our queer community in celebration of Pride! Follow along on our Instagram 🏳️‍🌈