self-education, self-advocacy, internet, research, Toronto, queer events, Catherine Hernandez, Kim Malon, Glad Day Books, queer theory, Facebook, social media, role models, mentors, on-line community, activism, trans women, language, Two-Spirit, curriculum, queer community, Blackness, intersectionality, queer education, drag queens, Cruze and Tangos, oppression, queer, transgender, identity, People of Colour, complexity, beauty
Tara: So you were both going to high school, making your way, uh, and um, developing your sexualities--
Tara: and your gender identities.
Jae: Doing the research! And (laughs)--
Tara: Yes! Tell us about that because I assume that there wasn’t an LGBTQ curriculum--
Jae: No, not really.
Tara: at the school.
Jae: You know, we didn’t go out much because you know, we didn’t have a lot of friends and most of the time, it was just, sit in the house and people would be smoking in the room, you know and it would be too cloudy, you can’t breathe. (Daya nods) You know, it’s a small town! (laughs) Like, it would be boring after a while so we’d just, you know, stay in our house, you know, sit on Facebook, you know, read all these articles--
Jae: read all these books. (turns to Daya) We would, we would go, um, with you know, with her Granny or her Grandpa to Toronto every time they would go and visit the city because they had to pick something up or whatever so we’d tag a long. And you know, we, we’d (turns to Daya) (Daya nods) go to some queer things. We’d see like, Catherine Hernandez--
Daya: Uh-hmm. (nods).
Jae: and Kim, Kim Milan. We’d see all these cool queer people and you know, get all these queer—we’d go to Glad Day! And get like, ten books and bring them back and just like--
Jae: read a lot. (turns to Daya).
Jae: And read up on queer theory. You know, be a part of like, Facebook groups or like, little forums and all that. Kind of like, trying to get connected, you know, even though we were super young still, like, teenagers.
Daya: Yeah. Yeah for me, it was really about like, finding like, uh, mentors in the community--
Daya: that I could look up to. Like, there was a lot of trans women who I really uh, um, looked up to at the time--
Daya: and they were like, activists and they would post a lot about what was going on in the community--
Daya: and just what was going on, um, like, all over the world. (looks at Jae) And I felt like that was a really good place to start--
Daya: I felt like we, I, got a lot of confidence from those people—
Jae: Like just seeing them.
Jae: We’d go to like, Crews and Tango’s, just to be surrounded by drag queens--
Daya: It also just gave us that language--
Daya: and gave us that education--
Jae: Yes, yes.
Daya: we weren’t receiving or getting anywhere else.
Jae: Or that community, you know?
Uh-hmm. Like, even just learning about two-spirit people and history and um, like, so many that should really be in the education system, we discovered on our own.
Jae: Definitely, like queer communities definitely made me more aware of my Blackness--
Jae: and the oppression that I was facing.
Jae: And all of this, cuz it all intersects--
Daya: It all intersects, yeah! (laughs).
Jae: It intersects, right? So, it was really--
Daya: Say it together now! (all laughter).
Jae: It all intersects! But yeah, you know, it just, it really made me feel proud to be a queer, trans person-of-colour (Daya nods) who you know, I’ve just never been able to you know, accept my identity and just feel comfortable in it. And I could see other people doing that. So that just really made me feel good and I really needed that.
Daya: Hm-mmm. It’s like about discovering the complexity and also the value--
Jae: Yes, yes! And the beauty in it! That it’s not a bad thing, you know?
Daya: Yeah, and just allowing you to just feel those things with yourself --
Daya: That was this, like, that was the biggest gift from all of that.
Jae: Definitely, definitely.