Queer History Month 2020

Events details QHM 2020


Please note that due to COVID-19, all our events will be online on Zoom, but we are working hard to make our events as accessible as possible by providing ASL interpretation and/or live captioning (in English). 

Should you have any questions or any accessibility needs not listed here, please send us a message at access.qhm [at] mcgill.ca.


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Opening Ceremony/Return of the Rainbow: Oct 1, 4:30-6 pm

This year, McGill will celebrate its 3rd Queer History Month, organized by the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), with the collaboration of the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (IGSF), The McGill JBSCE Subcommittee on Queer People, the Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support, and Education (OSVRSE), the Faculty of Medicine, the School of Social Work, BSN, Queer McGill, the Queer Grad Club, the Union for Gender Empowerment and many other McGill and community partners (DAWN Canada, Simone de Beauvoir Institute etc.). This year the opening ceremony will also be a joint event, serving as the 19th annual "Return of the Rainbow", McGill's homecoming event for current and past students, staff, and faculty who identify with 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, planned by the JBSCE Subcommittee for Queer People and the OPVA.

We will provide live captioning (in English) for this event.

Register through Eventbrite.


Decolonial Politics, Feminist Futures — Perspectives on Global SOGIESC (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics) Advocacy in the New Decade: Keynote by Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana: Oct 7, 6-8 pm (With IGSF)

This year, Queer History Month, in collaboration with IGSF, is delighted to welcome Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana, as our Keynote Speaker for QHM 2020. Dr Weerawardhana will give a lecture on Decolonial Politics, Feminist Futures: Perspectives on Global SOGIESC Advocacy in the New Decade.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented call to take stock of the dire realities of global SOGIESC (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics) advocacy, driving home the necessity of re-orienting how SOGIESC work is funded and executed, especially in the global South/s. In a world where populist and nationalist political discourses are gaining much traction in many countries, politics of the moderate ‘middle ground’, feminist movements, indigenous justice movements, and social movements spearheaded by non-cis and non-het peoples, are increasingly faced with new, and in some cases life-threatening challenges. This lecture is an invitation to a collaborative reflection how we can collectively envision more equitable and cosmopolitan approaches to engage in movement-building, social transformation work and progressive politics in a world that relentlessly marginalises trans and queer bodies and political discourses, decolonial feminist politics and praxes, and peoples at many other multiple intersections.

Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana is a political and international affairs analyst, academic, educator and human rights activist from Sri Lanka. Her discipline is International Politics, with a three-pronged focus on the politics of deeply divided places, feminist international relations and gender politics. A strong intersectional feminist advocate, her activist work focuses on decolonial approaches, and a holistic perspective on challenging forms of systemic marginalisation. She currently serves as a board member of the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network. Previously, she engaged in politics of the centre-left in the north of Ireland. Her writing has appeared in academic journals, edited volumes and in the press in several countries. Her second single-author monograph, exploring trans politics and the politics of reproductive justice, will be published in 2021. Her contributions to decolonial politics involve a constant focus on challenging cisnormativity and heteronormativity in academic spaces and political spaces. Chamindra is the founder of the Consortium for Intersectional Justice, a platform that focuses on promoting a better understanding of intersectional justice in all aspects of human rights and gender/social/economic justice advocacy.

We will provide ASL interpretation and live captioning (in English) for this event.

Register through Eventbrite.


Love Poems for the End of the World — A Workshop and Reading with Smokii Sumac: Oct 14, 12-1:30 pm

When Smokii Sumac published his 2018 collection you are enough: love poems for the end of the world (Kegedonce Press), he had no way of knowing that two years later we'd be facing a global pandemic, forcing us into a kind of stasis; localized to our homes, and committed to our social "bubbles" in a way that most of us have never experienced before. So, what does "love in the time of Covid19" look like? Inspired by one of the great writers of romance, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Smokii promises to get you thinking about all the kinds of love we can continue to cultivate in this time of social distancing and isolation. And what is a love poem without pining and longing? We'll have you writing love poems to the things you miss most, as well as the things that are saving your life (Beyonce on Netflix and Disney+, anyone?) in quarantine and beyond.

Smokii Sumac (Ktunaxa) is a poet and PhD Candidate in Indigenous Studies at Trent University, where his work centers on the question how do we come home? As an Indigenous adoptee, intergenerational residential school survivor, and two-spirit person, Smokii's lived experiences are deeply embedded into his art and research. His first poetry collection, you are enough: love poems for the end of the world, (Kegedonce Press, 2018) won an Indigenous Voices Award for published poetry, and Smokii has recently been named as a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize. Currently teaching at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, BC, Smokii is extremely grateful to be living in ʔamaʔkis Ktunaxa (Ktunaxa territories), where he and his cat, Miss Magoo, have recently (and begrudgingly, on Magoo's part) added a new family member: a "big ole rez dog" named Kootenay Lou.

We will provide ASL interpretation and live captioning (in English) for this event.

Register through Eventbrite.


Black Queer and Trans Activism (With the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, IGSF and BSN): Oct 20, 6-8 pm

In the global context of anti-black racism, Queer History Month wanted to specifically highlight Black Queer and Trans Activists, who always were and still are at the frontline of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. In this event co-sponsored with BSN (Black Students Network), IGSF and the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia, we will have the chance to hear from several inspiring Black Queer and Trans Activists (Bios to come).

We will provide live captioning (in English) for this event.

Register through Eventbrite.

Meet our Panelists:

Elle Barbara
Elle Barbara is a Montreal-based avant-garde singer-songwriter, song selector (TS Ellise), pinup, speaker, writer, director, curator, and intervention worker whose musical output combines elements of soul, psychedelia, jazz, and underground. A lover of the odd, dark, or overlooked elements in pop music, Elle rose from artist-run spaces at the turn of the 2010s and has seen their work soar to enduring acclaim in Japan and Europe, in a career whose highlights include duets with Laetitia Sadier and R. Stevie Moore. In recent years, Barbara's efforts have been mainly centered around trans community organizing and event planning, including their contribution in Montreal's emerging ballroom scene as the Iconic Mother of the Idiosyncratic House of Barbara, whose children includes the likes of Chivengi Barbara, Syana Barbara, Chris Barbara, Fotar Barbara, Grapes Barbara, Bee Barbara, and Nevada Barbara. The Meta House of Barbara, in addition to organizing balls, is a collective whose transdisciplinary practice encompasses music, performance, activism, DJing, design and party planning. Elle’s current musical incarnation (Elle Barbara's Black Space) boasts excellence in the likes of Markus Lake and Mitch Holtby, and aims to re-center blackness and reject anti-black tropes within music and art spaces.


Chiakoun Yapi

Chiakoun Yapi est un.e militant.e panafricaniste et queer d'origine ivoirienne et un.e étudiant.e en design de mode. Ses champs d'intérêt sont principalement les relations dites Nord-Sud, le développement socio-économique des communautés noires afro-descendantes (par et pour), l'étude des sociétés traditionnelles africaines et la déconstruction des paradigmes LGBTQ+, développés selon une compréhension occidentale. Ses recherches sont inscrites dans des perspectives féministes intersectionnelles, décoloniales et panafricaines.
Ses nombreux champs d'intérêts (mode, musique, littérature, poésie, arts visuels, etc.) lui permettent de régulièrement côtoyer les scènes artistiques afro-descendantes et queer montréalaises.
Chiakoun Yapi is a pan Africanist, queer activist and a fashion design student, originally from Ivory Coast. Their fields of interest are mainly the so-called North-South relations, the socio-economic development of black Afro-descendant communities (by and for), the study of traditional African societies and the deconstruction of LGBTQ + paradigms, developed according to Western understandings and conceptions. Their research is inscribed in intersectional feminism, decolonial and pan African perspectives.
Their many fields of interest (fashion, music, literature, poetry, visual arts, etc.) allow them to regularly be around the Afro-descent and queer artistic scenes in Montreal.


Alicia Kazobinka

Originaire du Burundi, Alicia Kazobinka a grandi au Sénégal avant de venir immigrer au Québec en 2007.
Elle été bénévole pendant six ans pour l'organisme Arc-en-ciel d'Afrique / African Rainbow, a ensuite occupé le poste de responsable des médias sociaux pour la Fondation Massimadi en avant d'être nommé comme leur nouvelle porte-parole en 2018.
Son expérience en tant que femme trans noire lui apporte une expertise dans les questions d'identités de genre et d'intersectionnalité de l'oppression.


Kyng "Blxck Cxsper"
Kyng "Blxck Cxsper" Rose (they/them) is a multi disciplinary hip hop artist and founder of Trans Trenderz, a record label meant to elevate the voices of Black Trans Musicians. Their work has been featured in Grammy, Billboard, TheGrio and more.


Leroi Newbold
Leroi Newbold is an artist, community organizer and an educator at Canada’s first public Africentric school. LeRoi Newbold is the founding director of FreedomSchool, and has designed Afrocentric/Black focused curriculum and taught at the Africentric Alternative School for the past 9 years. LeRoi has worked with children and youth for the past 16 years as a teacher, early childhood educator, youth facilitator and arts facilitator.


Vincent Mousseau
Vincent Mousseau is a social worker, educator, and community organizer based in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal, QC), on the unceded territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk). They are currently doing a master’s degree in social work at Université de Montréal and hold a Bachelor of Social Work degree from McGill University. As both an activist and an educator, their areas of expertise include anti-oppressive framework, community outreach strategies for queer and trans people of colour, intersectional analysis, Black Lives Matter activism, and anti-assimilationist queer activism.Their current areas of academic interest surround intersectional models of identity development for Black 2SLGBTQ+ people and their effect on health and social service provision, as well as the creation of intergenerational and intersectional 2SLGBTQ+ spaces.


Queerness and disability (With DAWN Canada and the JBSCE Subcommittee on People with Disabilities): Oct 29, 6-7:30 pm

When it comes to 2SLGBTQIA+ history and education, people at the intersection of queerness and disability are often forgotten, erased. As part of Queer History Month 2020, join us for this panel on Queerness and disability, co-sponsored with DAWN Canada (Disabled Women’s Network Canada/Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées Canada). The panel will be facilitated by Nelly Bassily, Manager of the Youth Initiatives and International Relationships at DAWN (Bios of speakers to come).

We will provide ASL interpretation and live captioning (in English) for this event.

Register through Eventbrite

Meet our panelists!

Our Moderator: Nelly Bassily

Nelly Bassily is an intersectional feminist, sexual rights, and anti-racism activist and media maker with over 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector. Born to Egyptian parents in Montreal, immigration, diaspora, and identity also inform her activism. She is currently Director of youth initiatives and international relations at DAWN Canada and focuses her work on young women with disabilities and Deaf young women. Previously, she worked on the young feminist activism program at the Association for Women's Rights in Development. She is learning American Sign Language and co-hosts a feminist radio show called Des sorcières commes les autres on CKUT 90,3 FM.

Natasha Bacchus:

Natasha Cecily Bacchus also known as Courage is an athlete and artist, passionate about mental health, deaf advocacy, fitness and physical expression. Throughout her life, she has nurtured her passion for fitness by competing as a professional athlete and securing medal positions in both the Deaf Olympics and Pan Am Olympics as well as many other competitive sporting events. While running was her first passion and a means of emotional release, she used acting as a mode of physical expression and found theatre and film to be the preferred spaces for her to thrive as an actor. She has participated in a number of theatre and film productions and has a strong desire to continue to grow and develop as an artist in these industries, expanding representation to include differently-abled persons and empowering Black Deaf women in Canada to shine on and off the stage.

Che Cherrilyn Birchwood - Che Cherrilyn Birchwood is a multi-disciplinary healer, creating practices and spaces to serve communities in a variety of ways including: crisis intervention; individual and group therapy; community mental health workshops and panels; meditation and yoga; plant-based bodywork, and organising important socio-cultural events, such as both Montreal and Winnipeg’s first ever Dyke Marches.

They have worked in mental health and social services for the past 15 years and are in the final year of a PhD in Psychology with a specialisation in Clinical Research and Intervention at Université de Montréal. Their thesis focuses on improving mental health communication through image-based knowledge mobilisation. In clinical work, they meld history, sociology and psychology, giving weight to social determinants of health such as race, gender, ability, and trauma.

Gaitrie Persaud - Growing up as a Deaf Guyanese/Canadian, Gaitrie Persaud always had a passion for music & performance. She believes you don’t have to be hearing to enjoy music – music is already within you, it is the natural rhythm of our being. Her close-knit family influenced her relationship with music; she & her hard-of-hearing brother would attend family gatherings with traditional music & dance. They would sign the lyrics & move to the bass, feeling it within their bodies. As an artist, she has worked with multiple hearing performers creating accessible performances, recently alongside Rosina Kazi of LAL, Christopher Corsini of MDL CHLD (live showcases) and collaborating with an Australian Musician to create Accessible Videos. She is gaining popularity and has been recognized as the top emerging Deaf musician in Canada. Creatively translating lyrics into accessible movement, Gaitrie spoke at POP Montreal alongside panelist/activist Deaf Rapper Matt Maxey of Deafinitely Dope. Acting is her passion. She has been involved with different theatres for almost 5 years. She has been involved in a play called “The Two Natashas: Our life in Guyana” with her co-actor Natasha Bacchus. She is the first IBPOC Deaf assistant director in Canada and she's currently assistant-director of Phantom of the Opera play with the well-known Deaf director Jules Dameron from LA. Gaitrie has been advocating for the QTIBPOC Deaf community to break barriers in the artistic world. She owns her own company which is called PHOENIX THE FIRE. It is a theatre hub for QTIBPOC Deaf artists.

jaye Simpson - jaye simpson is an Oji-Cree Saulteaux Indigiqueer whose roots hail from the Sapotaweyak, Keeseekoose & Skownan Cree Nations. they are published in several magazines including Poetry Is Dead, This Magazine, PRISM international, SAD Magazine: Green, GUTS Magazine, SubTerrain, Grain and Room. They are in two anthologies: Hustling Verse (2019) and Love After the End (2020). it was never going to be okay (Nightwood Ed.) is their first book of poetry. they are a displaced Indigenous person resisting, ruminating and residing on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-waututh (pronounced - sail-wha-tooth), and sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations territories.

McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous peoples whose presence marks this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

For more information about traditional territory and tips on how to make a land acknowledgement, visit our Land Acknowledgement webpage.

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