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.
Voices of Euphoria
Their art piece submission for Summit 2021 is a short film highlighting voices from the gender-diverse community sharing their experiences with Gender Euphoria. This project was inspired by panelist Kai Jacobsen who presented “Gender Euphoria: What Is It, And How Do We Get More of It?” Kai’s focus on euphoria hit home for Lexx as a trans person and made them realize that their journey after coming out focused on what made them feel dysphoric. They want more people to have the opportunity to discover chasing euphoria as an action to improve the mental health within our Two-Spirit, trans, and gender diverse community.
The idea of transforming the language we use in our lives and health care system is a great example that reflects Summit 2021’s theme, "Disrupt and Reconstruct.”
About the Creator
Lexx Ambrose (they/them) – St. John's, NL
Lexx is a trans-agender individual new to the art scene, using visual short films to create impact and bring representation to underrepresented communities.
Pandemic within a Pandemic (2021)
My image is based on my attendance of the session “Pandemic within a Pandemic: How the HIV Community has Adapted during COVID-19,” which focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the HIV+ community.
The session emphasized the massive re-allocation of resources from HIV+ services to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the isolation that those living with HIV have experienced throughout this pandemic. I approached this with the intent of creating an editorial illustration – something simple, quickly readable, and visually impactful.
Using these two themes I painted a single discarded medical glove – a now-common sight during the pandemic. The outside of the glove is a traditional blue color, with the inside being a different color representative of the HIV+ community. This medical glove signifies the singularity of medical institutions during this pandemic despite the needs of the HIV+ community. This singular glove surrounded by COVID-19 is emblematic of the isolation of community members.
Process: I started by writing a summary of what was presented during the session to ensure I had an understanding of the session. I then went over the notes I took and looked for recurring words and themes within them. The three words that appeared most in my notes were: fear, isolation, and capacity.
Click here to view full Process
Using these three words, as well as the title of the session, “Pandemic Within a Pandemic,” I explored what may be an apt visual metaphor for the pandemic and decided that a medical glove would work well for this. I then explored how to depict the “pandemic within the pandemic” as a hidden but visible thing. Using the interior of the glove with a different colour proved to be simple and effective.
Once I had my idea figured out, I moved from digital thumbnails to a physical canvas and paint, and worked the canvas until I felt I had a completed painting. This was then photographed and moved back into Photoshop, where I spent time creating more texture and contrast to further enhance my message.
About the Creator
Mike Hooves (they/them) – Calgary, Alberta
Mike Hooves is a prairie queer working in illustration, animation, and film in Calgary, Alberta. They received their bachelor of design from AUArts in 2016. Mike uses simple shapes, saturated colour, and gestural linework to create playful and engaging imagery that acknowledges queer aesthetic and signifiers.
The piece itself is inspired by jaye simpson's presentation, the rain represents the negative words we hear raining down like a storm. In the corner, there is hope, found in community and acceptance. The words from the poem and painting are inspired by our personal journeys. We have tied everything together in this piece where hope and community create a safe space.
Click here to see full-sized painting
Sailor's Son - A Measure of a Man
Water washes over me; it’s the only
thing that keeps me from drowning.
Suffocating screams stay in my head,
silent for everyone but me.
Safeguarded by apron strings in a
palatial paradise that pains my skin.
Whirling around in a kitchen of care;
creating, loved, expression always there.
*SLAM* *click* *Thump*
His Steps quicken and a
tongue lashes out labels:
“queer,” “fruit,” and
eyes roll like fists.
Enough jabs to leave me bleeding,
a matriarch sewing mends where she can.
A safe space created from cast-offs
of chaos and control in
An empathetic embrace,
whirling through woes with a
woman full of love.
Somehow surviving misogynistic matters
while wearing a fashionable smile.
Always an ally, letting light-in-the-
loafers-me dance freely.
Picking pansies with mom is dandy;
safer spaces are people, humanity.
Saltwater streams down my cheeks,
born next to the sea.
Healed, cleansed and free,
drawing strength from perceived inadequacy.
A document of the piece’s written copy is also available.
About the Creators:
Stephen Colwell (he/him) & Nina Savoie-Colwell (she/her) – Fredericton New Brunswick
This year's Summit (Disrupt and Reconstruct) has given us a platform and the opportunity to express ourselves artistically as a queer couple. As a straight-presenting married couple, we often are not taken seriously or recognized by our peers for our queer identities. Allowing us to have a safe and accepting space to express our past traumas allows us to feel welcomed as part of the greater 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
Having a community that understands the pain and trauma related to being excluded simply for existing in a world where being different is wrong is a powerful feeling. Community and understanding create a fellowship and a safe space for 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals to feel heard, accepted, and valued as members of society.
We both have a passion for arts and culture and are both pursuing our Master's degrees in our fields of interest Psychology and Education where we hope to contribute to building an ethical society. We believe in promoting diversity, inclusion, equity, respect, etc. Just a few of the positive words in our art piece.
My approach for this project was to utilize abstract expression through shapes and lines to convey the teachings I learned from Kai Cheng Thom’s presentation at CBRC Summit 2021. After attending Kai Cheng’s presentation, I was so uplifted that I got some interesting visions and ideas in my mind, and all I could think about was shapes and lines! I completed this project using a thrifty DIY punk rock method, using unconventional painting tools (NO brushes!) and entry-level mediums and canvases (some of them re-painted over, so I didn’t spend extra money…)” -SD
“Choose Love” – Series of 6 art pieces created from Kai Cheng Thom’s presentation:
Acrylic, watercolour, oil pastel.
Signifies the “conflict triangle.” The layers of triangles represent the multiple conflicts we experience inside ourselves and with others as we go about our day to day lives.
The 2 keys
Acrylic, oil pastel.
2 circles intersecting, to represent conflict de-escalation and resolution happening in the middle (blue). One circle symbolizes compassion (and self-compassion) and one circle symbolizes curiosity.
The healing spiral
Symbolic to the process of post-traumatic growth. The top half of the painting represents pleasure (pink abstract) and the bottom half represents pain (black/darkness). The blue spiral shows the process of going through the depths of pain, in order to move upwards towards the feeling of pleasure once again, and personal healing.
Represents the multiple layers of a human being – human sacredness (center), inner self, shadow, and mask. Remember to try to notice the best self of the other person (and yourself too!).
Choosing love at the end of the world
Signifies space and time. The black circle represents the end of the world. The lotus flower represents peace, compassion, and love, and that choosing love in the end is the path to nirvana.
The soul nerve
Oil pastel, markers, colour pencils, glue, acrylic.
The vagus nerve (soul nerve) connects to our parasympathetic system which includes our brain, heart, lungs, and stomach. Since the vagus nerve is linked to the major organs inside our bodies, it’s important for keeping us moving and grooving, happy and healthy. Therefore, it is the soul nerve that is the key to wellness. Always be mindful of the soul nerve!
About the Creator
Stephen is a Metis, neurodivergent, bisexual, genderfluid, mental health care consumer and advocate, residing in Winnipeg, Treaty One Territory. Stephen has been exploring his creative side through the realm of visual art over the past few years as a way of coping through his own personal struggles and mental health recovery. Stephen’s creative process is inspired by abstraction, philosophy, minimalism, and humour. Much of his artwork is inspired by the works of creative minds like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Agnes Martin, Jean-Michel Basquiat and the artists from the abstract expressionist movement
Two Spirit Love Letter
My piece of art is a video love letter dedicated to all my Two-Spirit and Indigi-queer and trans relations across Turtle Island and beyond. I chose to record in drag because I wanted to continue exploring Tugs as a character outside of a stage setting. This art piece was inspired by the incredible Two-Spirit Gathering on Day One of Summit, which left me feeling so in awe of all the wonderful Two-Spirit people who attended and shared their voices. The Gathering was an opportunity for 2S folks to connect in a space just for us, where we could speak openly and honestly about the issues that impact our community. The positive emotion I was left with after the Gathering is reflected in this video message of love and kindness.
Two-Spirit people have been left out of the discourse around Reconciliation. I truly believe that honouring our existences through the Two-Spirit resurgence movement is our way of disrupting colonial impositions of cis-heternormative ways of being and reconstructing the narrative around gender and sexual diversity through an Indigenous lens.
About the Creator
Tugs Cuchina (they/them) – Edmonton, Alberta
Tugs Cuchina (Cheyenne Mihko Kihêw – they/them) is a novice Two-Spirit drag artist from amiskwacîwâskahikan. Tugs came to life at the 34th International Two-Spirit Gathering at Mêtis Crossing in August 2021. Through drag, they aim to uplift Indigenous voices while bringing much needed awareness to social justice issues faced by Indigeous communities. They are still very new to drag as an artform, but it has been an exciting way of exploring their creativity and gender as a Two-Spirit person and artist.