This Sunday, QMUNITY, B.C.’s queer, trans, and two-spirited resource centre, will be hosting a virtual benefit starting at 11:00 am in support of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
Hosted by Libby Davies and David C Jones, the event marks QMUNITY’s seventeenth annual event, with this year’s theme being “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing.” Guest performers Ilona Verly, Ivan Coyote, and Sarah MacDougall are set to make an appearance, and tickets are still for sale by donation online now at Eventbrite.
“International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia is an annual event that’s ran around the world, originally starting with the World Health Organization recognizing that homosexuality was not a mental disorder, which happened 31 years ago…reminding us that homophobia transphobia, and biphobia does still exist,” says Joel Harnest, co-executive director of QMUNITY.
“For community, we use [the event] as a fundraiser…to help us rid the world of homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia by donating to our organization to ensure that we can run really holistic support programs, seniors’ programs, and peer support groups for queer, trans, and two-spirited folks.”
QMUNITY’s annual benefit started in 2004 as a breakfast for IDAHOT. Attracting many faces each year, the event holds a place of importance throughout the Vancouver community.
“Each year, we want to stir up some conversation,” says Harnest. “We know that businesses and larger law firms might send some of their employees to this branch, so we want them to start to think about ways that they can address homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in their own workplaces.”
The benefit is just one of the many events QMUNITY hosts in support of the LGBTQ2S+ community, including a wine tasting event called Stack the Rack and annual pride parades. Through community connection, social services, and leadership, the not-for-profit organization acts on their mission to improve the lives of LGBTQ2S+ people in B.C. Some of their services include low-barrier counselling, youth and senior social programs, and peer groups.
“I think in the year 2021, in an urban center like Vancouver, depending on your privileges, you might think it’s actually quite an easy time to be LGBTQ2S+, and that complicity is really dangerous,” says Harnest.
“Right now, there’s lots of dialogue in Canada around conversion therapy and…there’s some political parties that are housing voices who speak in favor of conversion therapy, and how it’s a suitable mental health counselling strategy when we know that it can lead to increased rates of suicide, depression, and anxiety. So [QMUNITY] is a way for our community to recognize that there is still work being done, and we’re not done yet.”
Like many events over the past year, QMUNITY’s benefit will take place online. While virtual functions and Zoom calls may be starting to feel underwhelming, Harnest says the event is bound to engage all audiences.
“We just did a dress rehearsal last night, and I am blown away. The sheer skill and talent on display is really remarkable — all the musicians, performers, drag performers, and spoken word artists have great talents and skill.”