Firstly, I want to thank the Advance Alliance Creators Project and CBRC Summit 2021 Disrupt and Reconstruct for creating a platform for creative 2SGBQ+ folx. I am gay, brown and Catholic and immigrated to Canada nine years ago from a small Himalayan town of Darjeeling in Northern India.
Fast forward to today, as I am writing the content statement for the poems I have written in reflection to the three-day CBRC Summit held on October 27th, 28th and 29th of this year. I have to say what a journey my life has been and a blessing to be part of these historic conversations that are so meaningful for my community and my identity as a queer person of colour.
Among all the important panel discussions and talks about the queer community's health and well-being over the three days of the Summit, I chose six community conversations that touched my inner spirit and raised my curiosity to know more about the knowledge and ideas that the community leaders exchanged during the Summit.
I have written six poems with love for my community. I believe what is said or written from the heart touches the heart.
The first poem is inspired by the plenary panel discussion on Elders and Knowledge Keepers from Day One of the Summit. The words said by Elder Albert McLeod, Elder Marjorie Beaucage and Elder John R Sylliboy were about the importance of Elders and Knowledge Keepers for the survival of the community. Growing up with nature and the healing properties of nature. The balancing of the masculine and feminine. Without our Elders and Knowledge Keepers and Sharers, I would not be where I am today. I have the deepest respect and honour to all who came before me, who created a path for me so that one day I can create a path for someone who will be coming next.
The second poem is inspired by the keynote plenary on “Let Me Speak: Providing Safe LGBTQ2+ Resources for Youth in and from Care” by jaye simpson. jaye's advice – for healing, we need to be like water – mending, bending, and melting in whichever way necessary was very powerful for me as water symbolizes the diversity of form, shape and fluidity.
The third poem is inspired by the keynote plenary titled “The Resurgence of Trans Conversion Practices” on Day Two of the Summit by Florence Ashley. The conversation around gender identity and the trauma of conversion were touching and a powerful sharing of Florence's story. The idea of tolerance for the community was significant for me. Through my poem, I have tried to express what change means for a trans person and how society's constructed ideas about what gender should be hinders the rights of trans individuals.
The fourth poem is inspired by the short oral presentations from “Affirming Trans Health and Wellness” by Spencer Belanger, Asha-Maria Bost, Ren Braul, Kai Jacobsen, Alec Moorji and Mike Smith. For affirming trans health and wellness, affirming trans spaces and trans bodies is essential. In the poem, I have expressed the power of a trans body and the expressive affirmation the body could have over the health and wellness of trans individuals.
The fifth poem is inspired by the short oral presentations from "Reflecting on Mental Health and Our Communities" by Kiarmin Lari, Alvaro Luna, Nicole Pal, Mahado Mohamed Hassan, Travis Salway and Katelyn Ward. The conversation explored the resilience in the community and the resources for building capacity despite all the social, economic, and structural challenges the queer community has strength in its veins. The community's experience with hurt and hate is a reality, but in the middle of all the hate and hurt, there are experiences of healing and love.
The sixth poem, titled: unruly bodies, is inspired by the keynote plenary “Choosing Love at the End of the World: Social Collapse, Conflict Resolution, and Queer Resilience” by Kai Cheng Thom. Kai's story about the ancient one, the idea about transformative justice, that to be human is to harm and after the harm, where do we go. The poem reflects on the unruly bodies, the untamed and unliked – the power of love and ideas about disruptions.
I have numbered the poems not to rate them but to reference the clockwise movement of the Summit's panel discussions from Day One to Day Three.
The first and the second poems were from Day One of the Summit. The third, fourth and fifth poems are from Day Two of the Summit, and the sixth poem is from Day Three of the summit.
Art is influential and many times rebellious. Through my words, I have tried to express and reflect on the many ideas, conversations, questions, and answers that were exchanged during the three days.
I want to thank the above-mentioned community leaders who have inspired me to write these poems, the leaders who are the change-makers, social innovators, and trendsetters. Thank you from the depths of my heart for sharing your knowledge and for inspiring poets like me to express myself to my fullest being, and for giving me the platform to disrupt and reconstruct queer men's health through my poems.
About the Creator
Berto Uday Norbert (he/him) – Winnipeg, Alberta
I am gay, brown and Catholic and immigrated to Canada nine years ago from a small Himalayan town of Darjeeling in Northern India.