Sometimes it’s hard to find words to describe when something life changing happens. It’s hard to describe when your gut just knows or when your spirit just lights up knowing that the Universe just aligned in a beautiful and perfect way. That’s what I’m left feeling as I try to capture the great energy that was our Inaugural Rainbow Awards.

This past month, on the eve of Spirit Day, there were 300 people who assembled downtown Newmarket , and many more watching from our livestream online, to celebrate 30 amazing 2SLGBTQ+ youth from around York Region. On this night, we shared in the purest celebration of Rainbow Excellence. A huge thank you to the young people who led the evening, including our incomparable emcee Megan DeCaire, vocalist Isabella Aquino and spoken word artist Michael Freitas. You three were the engine of the evening and a visible demonstration of what is best about queer youth. Thank you for your bravery, your honesty and your humour which provided a fabulous example for everyone in the room. Thank you also to our keynote speaker, the trailblazer and a personal mentor to me, Tee Garnett. Thank you for your reflections on life as a Black, non-binary person and for providing a visible example of the successful future and happy possibilities that lie ahead for the young people in attendance. Thank you also to comedian Bee Bertrand for shining a light on our lived experience in a way that makes us laugh at and celebrate ourselves and our community.

It was a room that was filled with love and a moment that will be etched in my memory seeing so many parents, teachers and community members honouring the civic, athletic, academic and social accomplishments of our 2SLGBTQ+ young people. In a time where there is so much fear about gender non-conformity and the very acknowledgement of the existence of 2SLGBTQ+ youth, it was a blazing reminder that not only do these kids exist but that they shine and are both amazing and valued for their contributions to our community. These are the kids who are bus helpers, read to younger students, volunteer their time coaching, run breakfast programs, provide tutoring to their peers and contribute in meaningful ways to the clubs and teams in their schools. They also include activists like our first ever scholarship winners, Patrick Mikkelsen and Isio Emakpour, who refuse to let other people’s interpretations of our community define our own sense of self or self worth. To hear Patrick speak on the night of our Rainbow Awards was to be reminded that love always wins and that the 2SLGBTQ+ community’s ability to be there for each other is something that is unending and unparalleled.

It was a night of affirmation and a night of joyful resistance. It was a night where we shared the importance of creating relationships that lift us up. It was a night where we thanked the people who provide 2SLGBTQ+ youth with safe and happy places to grow. Mostly, as a Denison GSA student so aptly said, “it was a night to enjoy queers in the wild”. May that enjoyment stretch long beyond one evening and may we continue to provide joy and community to each other in all of our days. It was a magical night and we look forward to the next one.

Let’s Go Change The World,