My name is Alexander Levi, I’m a twenty-nine year old queer transman and this is my queer experience, what pride means to me and what I hope for the future of the 2SLGBTQ* community. Before I start, I’d like to acknowledge that I am a settler on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dene, Dakota and Metis peoples.
What does pride mean to me? Pride isn’t just about celebrations, parties and taking up space as a queer person. Pride is about the ability to change, to grow and to learn about self and the space we take up in community. I have come out four times in the past sixteen years, each followed by loss, grief and heartbreak, but also queer joy, a sense of community and discovery of self.
If someone had told thirteen-year-old AFAB me where and who I would be at age twenty-nine, I would have thought it was the joke of the century. At thirteen, I realized that I was bisexual, which was still incredibly taboo back then. I was met with “it’s just a phase” or “you’re just saying that for attention.” I felt forced to hide that part of me, to lie and deny that part of me for eleven years. Following a decade of heteronormativity and trauma, I thought I was taking back my identity by coming out as a lesbian at twenty-four. Less than two years later, it changed to queer, shortly followed by coming out as a transgender male.
When I could finally put words to the way that I have felt for what felt like my whole life, it felt like I was taking a breath for the first time. For the first time in twenty-seven years, I felt seen and heard. I was incredibly lucky and privileged when I came out, between work, family and friends. I gained more than I lost, and I was able to experience the feeling of people genuinely just caring for me, accepting my identity and wanting me to thrive. I am thankful that my family, though it took time, fully accepted me and stood behind me. My friends never thought twice about anything. I have also been blessed to work for two companies where my identity was fully embraced.
For future Pride celebrations, I’d love to see conversations around queer identities become more normalized in everyday settings, with queer history taught more widely. Queer youth need to know that they are heard, seen and valid as well. Representation needs to be more prevalent in media, especially for BIPOC queer folk and youth. I would love for there to be more conversation around queerness being a spectrum rather than a solid identity. For some, it may be solid and absolute, but for others, like myself it’s very much a spectrum that will still continue to change. Every individual within our community, experiences their identity differently as well as how/when/where/why they come out to the people around them. For me, Pride is the ability to advocate for that individuality and those experiences.
Covid-19 has impacted the ability to gather as a collective community for Pride, but I know that when we are able to gather safely again, we will have many new individuals who have joined our community and we will have one hell of a celebration to welcome new and old.
Happy Pride 2021! May your queerness be loud, proud and forever beautiful ❤
Alexander is a street community outreach worker and a queer youth mentor: “I’d also like to say that I’m very blessed to be seen, heard and validated in both of those spaces, and even on the streets with the folks I work for, how thankful I am to be able to be visible in those spaces and that we progress as a society where that’s the standard for all queer folk and we are protected.” Find more from Alexander on his Instagram.