Toronto
3 min

Activism 101

Youth sound off on why (and how) they're changing the world

VALERIE COLDEN. One of three first-place essay contest winners. Credit: Joshua Meles

To encourage young homos to free their inner radical, the group Supporting Our Youth called for short essays on activism. Along with the following three winning submissions, three honorable mention essays (by Sarah Liss, Chrystal Donbrath-Zinga and Ryan Kraft) were read at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Jun 17 where winners got to mingle with older activists like Mihra-Soleil Ross, Rick B├ębout and George Hislop.



I’m not an activist, I’m a painter

By Julia Gonsalves



Sometimes activism is frenching your partner at a bus stop in Scarborough during rush hour or giving cigarettes to the man sitting on a subway vent because he doesn’t want fuckin’ carrot sticks.



Sometimes activism is dropping a class, quitting a job, leaving a coffee shop and writing about it later.



And on days when I can’t write at least I can sing it and on days when I can’t move teeth or ink at least I can think it and on days when I’m not even thinking there is always listening to be done because someone, somewhere is scrawling and giving off heat. And sometimes activism is just listening.



When my cape is tucked into my underwear I am in no position to be a flight instructor but I can be a damn good student pilot.



I can fix planes, sew goggles, paint banners, paint triangles.



Sometimes activism is being the painter, putting queer colours on canvas.



Trans activist trans pride

By Christina Strang



Transsexuals face great adversity, insensitivity, poor access to health and social services, prejudice and hate (even very much so in the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities).



The basic needs of, by average, a poorer community have simply not been met. I work with youth, lower income, street-active and sex worker transsexuals and transgendered individuals and the barriers we face in accessing the most basic of things (like hormones, HIV/AIDS treatment, shelters, and rehab for substance abuse) is overwhelming compared to that of the queer community at large.



Right now I am coordinating the first HIV/AIDS prevention campaign for TS/TG sex workers, who, up until now, have been receiving outreach as if they were gay men which completely ignores the specific bodies, sexualities and lives of transsexuals.



Having worked as a prostitute and worked for transsexuals I know that there should be an AIDS hospice and rooming house for transsexuals with HIV/AIDS, there should be transexual health care services, there should be transsexual youth and street-active services, there should be transsexual- run community health programs.



And there will be. I’m an optimist. Twenty years from now we will hopefully look back on this time as a period of great emancipation for transsexuals. As for right now I just want to feed the transsexuals on the street who may not have eaten a healthy meal in days, provide safer sex outreach to TS/TG prostitutes, talk to those who come through our doors looking for someone to understand them and share their experiences with them, and to stand up if only as an example of a transexual who isn’t afraid or ashamed – ‘cuz I’m not.



Transexuals are so beautiful, so unique, so very special. We have a history, a culture, a people. We have so much to share with the world, and each other.



Otnorot

By Valerie Colden



Imagine a city named Otnorot. It’s a big city, filled with big buildings and big business. Big people in big gray suits drive big cars to their big meetings. They make their big money and the big government listens to them. The big people are too busy with their big problems to notice that they are not alone.



On their small bicycles and small buses, small people travel to small events in small places. They hold small meetings and discuss small problems. They put their small money and time into small solutions and changes. They shop at small stores and sign small petitions. Somehow, when small people take small steps, something amazing happens.



Together, the small steps grow until they’re bigger than the big steps of the big people. The small signatures on the small petitions and the small voices at the small rallies start to outweigh the big voices of the big money. The small problems are revealed as bigger than the big problems, but the small solutions spread. The not-so-small problems start to fade. Does Otnorot sound familiar?