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Hamilton couple forges ahead with LGBT scholarship

New scholarship aimed at black queer youth already attracting attention

Ruth Cameron, right, and datejie green are going ahead with their black LGBT scholarship after facing barriers with the Rev John C Holland Awards. Credit: N. Maxwell Lander

Two Hamilton women who say they were blocked from offering a scholarship for black, LGBT-identified students are going ahead on their own terms.

Ruth Cameron and datejie green had wanted to offer a $1,500-a-year scholarship through Hamilton’s Reverend John C Holland Awards, which honour the achievements of Hamilton’s black community and offer a number of youth scholarships. The couple alleges that the committee wanted to offer the scholarship for LGBT allies instead and delay its induction until 2016.

Cameron and green have since developed their own framework for the Audre Lorde Scholarship for black LGBT youth, named after the famed black, lesbian poet.

Though just recently announced, the scholarship is already attracting attention in Hamilton. “They were just so thrilled to see something that was specific in terms of the barriers that they faced,” Cameron says. “It definitely proves that there is a need if people are contacting us.”

Evelyn Myrie, the co-chair of the Black History Month committee, told Xtra in December that the awards committee is interested in creating an LGBT-focused award but that they wanted more community consultation.

In a follow-up email sent Jan 23, Myrie reaffirmed that the committee is interested in creating an LGBT-focused scholarship. “We will consult with LGBTQ youth as we look to create a platform for their full and equitable inclusion in the awards.”

“Datejie and I are part of that community; we would certainly like to consult with them,” Cameron says. They are still deciding whether they will attend the Reverend John C Holland Awards ceremony this year.

For now, they are focused on getting the word out about their new scholarship and finding people to help them choose the eventual winner.