YWCA Hamilton is proud to launch a new program that will help create community, combat racism and hate, and empower some of our community’s most marginalized residents.
The Intersect/ACT program is specifically designed for people who are racialized, and who identify as part of the Queer/Trans (QT) community. The goal is to equip those who have experienced racism and hate with crucial information and supports, as well as create community among folks with intersecting identities.
Folks who attend Intersect/ACT will be able to build capacity for self-advocacy, as well as learn how to effectively respond to incidents of racism and hate. It’s being led in partnership with ABRAR Trauma and Mental Health Services, Compass Community Health and the Hamilton Trans Health Coalition.
Sid Kirk, the Project Intersect/ACT Coordinator, says it’s important for folks from these intersecting communities to be able to make connections with those facing similar experiences – particularly because this is the first program of its kind in our community specifically created for racialized QT people.
“It’s really just so necessary and so needed – the intersection of being racialized and Two Spirit LGBTQIA+ – is a very very vulnerable group of people,” Sid said. “I myself fit into that category as well. I’m a racialized queer person who is trans, so I have an understanding of what the Two Spirit LGBTQIA+ community experiences. I do have a lot of lived experience.”
While the program officially launches this week, Sid has already facilitated several workshops and gatherings this summer, including a blackout poetry workshop and a screen-printing event in partnership with the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH). He is also planning an event in partnership with the AGH and collage artist Stylo Starr, when participants can create collages event that will be included in a zine.
“Art can be so unique and emotional – it’s important that the Two Spirit LGBTQIA+ community has these outlets,” Sid said. “I’ve been trying to frame it as community building and expression through art, in order to bring out their creativity – and have those difficult conversations as they see fit. My goal is to create safer spaces where that can happen.”
Over the next few months, Sid will be working to bring more participants into the program, as well as create more partnerships in the community. He is collaborating with participants to personalize a meeting space for Intersect/ACT in our MacNab Street building, in order to create a welcoming environment where participants can feel at home. Sid has also connected with other organizations in the city to have a roundtable discussion to discuss best practices, in order to discuss a community action plan to respond to hate and violence, and to help with the creation of a community toolkit that will help inform the community and service providers about how to be better allies.
“I’m trying to be as creative as possible to reach out to as many youth, as possible and as many people as possible,” Sid said.