The faces of Sudbury Pride

During Sudbury Pride Week, CBC News has been inviting people in the LGBT community to tell their stories.

Four voices from Sudbury's LGBT community say Pride is about 'choosing to be who you are'

During Sudbury Pride Week, CBC News has been inviting people in the LGBT community to tell their stories.

These aren't stories about isolation, fear and loneliness, but rather stories of finding a home, of feeling welcomed and supported in a city that's "not perfect" and "has a long way to go" but ultimately provides a sense of community.

Sudbury's Garrett Carr in his Miss Roxanne persona takes the stage during Pride Week. (Garrett Carr)
Garrett Carr

In response to the Orlando shootings, Carr turned to his talent for writing to express the community's fears and frustrations that such a tragedy could still occur in North America.

He began interviewing members of Sudbury's LGBT community for their perspectives on not only the shootings, but on their feelings about the potential for being targeted.

He hopes the interviews form the heart of his project — a "documentary on stage," that he expects to be completed next year.

"In grade 10 I accepted myself," Carr said, "I was Lockerby [High School's] first openly gay student. But the faculty was a great support system. I also had a lot of friends who protected me. I didn't have to deal with anything directly expect the societal 'gay is bad'."

"The point is to show that Sudbury and Ontario care about things so far away, and do have reactions," Carr said,  "to show solidarity and support for the people of Orlando."

The Artiste Trans Artisty Show highlights artwork from Sudbury's transgender community. Aédan Daniel Charest is one of the organizers. (Facebook profile picture)
Aédan Daniel Charest

Charest is one of the organizers behind the Artiste Trans Artistry art show. The exhibition will feature pieces by ATA participants, but also open to anyone who is transgendered.

'Really, this person is finding the strength and courage to be authentic. It's not a choice to be LGBT, just a choice to be who you are."

Charest said the show allows transgender artists to show viewers what it is like to be "gender fluid," and the opportunity to express themselves without shame or fear.

"You have or remind yourself that you are sometimes more male, and that you are still valid, you don't have to go into a box after coming out of another box," Charest said. 

Sudbury Trans Artistry Show features work by transgender artists

Kelly Perras has been impressed with the amount of support Sudbury has shown during this week's Pride festivities. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)
Kelly Perras 

Perras, vice-chair of Pride Sudbury, said Pride Week is an opportunity to meet your "queer neighbours,"  — dentists, teachers, friends, of every ethnic background, and of every economic background.

She said Sudbury has been very receptive to Pride Week. With local businesses putting up posters in windows, asking questions, and being interested in Pride, it allows the community to come together for what is sometimes called "gay Christmas."

Samson Learn travels through Sudbury during Pride Week, and looks forward to interviewing members of Sudbury's LGBT community. (Trans Canada documentary)
Samson Learn and Jake Ivany

Growing up as a transgender teen in Halifax, Samson felt like his experience wasn't truly represented in mainstream media.

There was the character Max on the show 'The Outward,' who was transgender, but Samson felt disappointed the stereotypes and tropes were so obvious.

"Because the character was on hormones...he was depicted as angry, a rage monster," Samson said.

So Samson teamed with Jake Ivany to take to the trans-Canada highway to find real stories of people in the transgender community. What they were expecting is far different than what they received.

"I was expecting some hard stories, heartbreaking days to get through," Samson said,  "but every day has been positive.

He noticed that the subjects of his interviews were able to take hardships or traumatic events and turn them around.

"What I'm hearing, they kind of capsule it, that make it only a small chapter, focus on positive and how to make it positive. Pushing for positive."

With files from Markus Schwabe, Angela Gemmill and Jason Turnbull


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