COMING OUT: Now VS Then - The Youth & Elders Project

HALIFAX, NS—How different was coming out in the 60s, 70s or 80s compared to coming out in the last 10 years? On Saturday, Nov. 15 the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project’s Youth & Elders Project will present a panel discussion on coming out from the perspectives of LGBTQ youth today (those under 25) and commnity elders (those over 50).

This will take place at 2 pm in the Shirley Burnstein Hall (Edward L Roach Building, Northwood), 2615 Northwood Terrace (off North Street near Gottingen), Halifax. This event is wheelchair accessible, and organizer’s request all who attend do so scent-free (NO scented personal care products please). Admission is free, and refreshments will be supplied.

In September NSRAP launched the Youth & Elders Project, with the aim to bring together community youth and elders. One aspect of the project is about “giving youth and elders a unique opportunity to get to know each other a little” says project manager, Chris Aucoin. Another aim is to document some community history.

 

Bridging a Generational Divide

“Unlike communities defined by geography, ethnicity, religion or language, LGBTQ folk are not often raised in households where they hear stories of people like themselves,” says Aucoin. “They are not usually raised in households where they get to know family members with whom they share a sexual orientation or gender identity.” Aucoin says there is little opportunity of learning about LGBTQ experiences from family members, and especially from elders. “And when individuals search out peers to form ‘families of choice’ to fill the gap of not having had families of people ‘like themselves’, these new families are usually limited in their age range to one generation.”

With the absence of access to older / senior LGBTQ generations, individuals frequently lose out on benefiting from the experience and wisdom of their LGBTQ forebears. And LGBTQ seniors often lose out on the opportunity to share their unique life experience with younger generations. The Youth & Elders Project seeks to bridge this generational gap, hoping to enrich the lives of all who take part.

 

Capturing An Undocumented History

Another aim of this project is to contribute to the LGBTQ community by recording some of the histories of our communities. “LGBTQ communities have a long history of support, activism, caregiving, and more, “ says Aucoin. “However, the history of our communities is rarely recorded, and nearly always absent from mainstream histories in schools, museums and other venues.”   He says we need to start filling in those huge gaps  “by collecting oral histories about what has already passed, and by also documenting contemporary stories to pass on to future generations.”

There will be more public Youth & Elder Project events in the months to come, as well as some less public sessions where project participants will meet to work together deciding on how the project moves forward. Anyone interested in joining the Youth & Elders Project, or to get on the Y & E contact list re future events, should contact NSRAP by email (NSRAP@nsrap.ca) or by phoning Youth & Elders Project Manager at 902-423-6999. You can also find the Coming Out panel event page on Facebook.

 

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