While a recent Gender Bender event at Mount Royal University showcased a celebration of gender identity and expression, some attendees expressed concern about what might happen to them under a United Conservative Party (UCP) government.

Mel Vee — a burlesque performer at the event — is tired of political talk and no action, and is deeply worried about what a UCP win would look like.

“That is a very dangerous situation that Alberta will be entering into for pretty much anyone who is marginalized in any way.”

Mel Vee is especially concerned about the UCP’s stance on gay-straight alliances (GSA).

UCP leader Jason Kenney has said in some cases, educators should inform parents if their children join a GSA. David Eggen, the NDP education minister, explains weakening the existing legislation, which prevents parental notification, would be harmful to students who have not come out.

Mel Vee agrees and rejects any move that would jeopardize LGBTQ2S+ youth.

“GSAs are life-saving. Nobody should ever have to tell their parents if they are in a GSA. If your parents aren’t safe to tell that to in the first place, they’re not safe to tell at all. People’s lives, particularly young people, are in some serious risk here.”

Spirit River Striped Wolf attended the annual Gender Bender. As a board member of YYC Voices — a group that advocates for racialized and marginalized communities — he also worries about which party will take power.

“I think that the Alberta Party has done a good job at trying to keep that conversation open and not be so closed about it, like the UCP might be. They’re open to talking about things like GSAs and things like that, but I definitely think that the NDP party has a stronger political perspective on LGBT people,” says Striped Wolf, who is also a policy studies student at MRU.

Another burlesque performer, Rebecca Young, whose stage name is Axis D’Evil, says the NDP party appears the most supportive. However, she still sees the need for more engagement with the LGBTQ2S+ community.

RebeccaYoungRebecca Young, stage name Axis D’Evil, gets in a few laughs before heading on stage to perform at Gender Bender. Young believes, philosophically, the NDP best supports the LGBTQ2S+ community. Photo by Mackenzie Gellner
“I think the very first thing they could do is provide actual presence at events. So actually sending representatives, members of the party, to LGBTQ events in the community regularly to have actual, physical contact.”

Full-time artist and drag performer Oliver Van Diepen, whose stage name is Oliver Twirl, goes further, calling upon politicians to address underemployment issues in the community.

“They could start hiring people from the communities, especially the queer community, especially the trans community. We have such a high population of unemployed people and that’s the first step to being able to live a decent life.”

Lyric Robinson, audience member and MRU english student, has a feeling the UCP will take the election this year. If so, she hopes the party doesn’t lose sight of people’s basic needs.

“I think they really need to work on the social programs that we have, the funding, more acceptance, all those sorts of things. It really needs to be implemented.”

Editor: Megan Atkins-Baker | matkins-baker@cjournal.ca 

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