By: Eva Morris
ElderPride is an initiative by Fierté Fredericton Pride to build intergenerational relationships within the 2SLGBTQ+ community. It began in the spring of 2021 out of a need to create a shared space for members of the community, young and old, to connect and share knowledge and experience. ElderPride prioritizes accessibility by providing meals at their events, hosting at locations easily accessible by public transportation, and providing ASL interpreters.
“I have always been interested in intergenerational connectivity in our community,” said Amelia Thorpe, ConneQT NB Liaison for Fierté Fredericton Pride and SOGI Coordinator at the University of New Brunswick. “Everywhere I have lived, most programs and spaces are typically focused on youth and young adults, which leaves a lot of people out.”
The 2SLGBTQ+ community is rich in history and culture. Although connection to such a community can be vital for many young queer people, it’s not always easy to find.
“Personally, I didn’t learn about 2SLGTBQ+ history or culture at all in school,” Thorpe recalled. “For me it was just kind of trying to learn it on my own — I think that’s very valuable information for folks to have.”
This experience is a common one, and many young members of the community today may not even know where to start.The absence of information about 2SLGBTQ+ culture and history is unfortunate; context and representation are crucial when coming to terms with a genderqueer or sexually diverse identity. Being unfamiliar with the history and culture can also create a barrier when attempting to connect with others in the community.
The lack of access to our community’s history is anxiety-inducing for many young people. What if they embarrass themselves, or come across as ignorant? Will that ignorance prevent them from accessing the 2SLGBTQ+ community? Will it hurt someone? These fears may discourage young people from reaching out to their elders.
Elders in our community also feel similarly disconnected. Many struggle with isolation; a lot of 2SLGBTQ+ spaces are now online or otherwise inaccessible to older folx. The rapidly changing language norms in the community are also a barrier for reaching today’s youth.
Both the young and old in our community would benefit from intergenerational connection. If you are a young person seeking connection with your elders, remember that they may feel similarly.
“It’s the difference between having a black and white television and a colour television,” said Heather Nicholson, an elder who is active in the ElderPride program, stressed the value of overcoming the distance. “You get old, you go grey — young people bring the rest of the spectrum. It’s important to reinstill hope; young people are still expanding.”
When asked if there was anything she wanted to communicate to young members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, Nicholson said: “More is better. It’s easy to get put into a box. People want to put us in boxes, but it’s our diversity that makes us strong. Even as you get older, the internalized homophobia is still there, and we need to do everything we can to crack it open. Remember that whatever is going on right now, things will change.”
There are more events coming up for ElderPride within the next few months. If you are looking for a community as the winter sets in, ElderPride is a great place to start.
To learn more, please visit https://frederictonpride.com, or the Fierté Fredericton Pride Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/frederictonpride/.
The web version of this article differs slightly from the print version due to an editorial decision to better reflect the truth.