It’s been a bad year.
If you’re like me, you’ve been walking around with a pit in your stomach ever since Prince died in April. And it got worse. So much worse. But even amid the godforsaken clusterfuck that was 2016, there were moments of grace.
One of those came in Toronto’s Barbara Hall Park, in front of hundreds of people who had gathered to collectively mourn the 49 people killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Kristyn Wong-Tam, the only queer person on Toronto’s city council, stood in front of the crowd and made an introduction.
“This is Farrah Khan,” she said. “Farrah is my queer Muslim fiancée.”
“When people hate queers, they hate us. When people hate Muslims, they hate us.”
It’s the kind of raw honesty that Canadians aren’t usually comfortable with.
And then there was Janine Fuller, the longtime manager of Little Sister’s in Vancouver who fought against government censorships and bombs in the ’90s. She opened up about her lonely fight against Huntington’s disease, and Vancouver’s LGBT community opened its hearts to her.
Rolston Ryan, a refugee from St Kitts and Nevis, won his long battle to stay in Canada, partially thanks to the adopted family that rallied to his side.
This isn’t to put some kind of saccharine, we’re-one-big-happy-family polish over this turd of a year. But looking back, the small victories do stand out.
And that’s not to say there haven’t been big developments as well. Black Lives Matter Toronto has demonstrated how effective a modern LGBT rights movement can be. There’s also real, substantive change coming out of the federal government, as well as the BC and Ontario legislatures.
Xtra will be publishing stories every weekday until the end of the month, taking a look at the stories that defined and defeated our communities in 2016.
If we’re going to make it through what is almost inevitably going to be an even more depressing 2017, we need to look back on how we got here. Please forgive us.