There were a few interesting things about putting on this workshop.   At a conference a couple of years ago there was a request from some members who wanted more information about this topic so that they could feel more welcomed.   Paige, Nikita and Colin volunteered to be on the presenting panel, and when we contacted Robin from QMUNITY (Vancouver’s Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender community centre) he was excited to be asked to be part of it.

Robin did a great job of giving an overview of what the issues are around gender and sexuality and what QMUNITY offers and how it is their intention to be welcoming of all kinds of people.   Colin is a volunteer at QMUNITY so was able to talk about that as well.   Nikita, Paige and Colin talked about their lives as gay, lesbian, bi and transgender self advocates and told great stories.   They led a discussion with the room about what it was like to be “doubly excluded” or in the case of transgender self advocates “triply excluded.”    Paige then brainstormed with people in the room and on the panel about how self advocates can be more welcoming of diversity in their groups, in their communities, workplaces and social lives.   Nikita moderated the group and made sure that everyone was included and had a chance to talk.  People asked great questions.  Gordon Fletcher and Aaron helped the panel organize their thoughts to put this talk together and made the graphic chart (instead of using a powerpoint) but they presented and facilitated without any support.

The evaluations and feedback from participants were amazing – people said it was a great workshop, the best they’d been to, really opened their eyes, they felt so much more comfortable, they learned a lot etc.   A couple of people at the debrief said it was the highlight of the conference for them.

This workshop fit into the theme of Gordon’s keynote which was about welcoming diversity – who isn’t here?  And how might we welcome young people, people of color, LGBT people, alternative lifestyle people.  Gordon and Aaron role played about how when people feel unheard and unrecognized they stop trying to be heard and just leave.

Next year the panelists intend on applying to present at the BCACL Conference for a longer, more interactive workshop.