Being surrounded by a group of people passionate about one subject is always a strong feeling of unity and collectiveness. NWT’s 1st Pride Festival went above and beyond, proving that point without any doubt. The people who came out to celebrate the LGBTQ community turned out to be an honest, open-minded, and uninhibited crowd, which contributed to a warm atmosphere with a touch of goofy humor. Maybe small in numbers, the people were not at all small in personality. With this supportive gathering I didn’t even feel nervous going up with Makenzie and Jessie to lead a FOXY workshop. It was Jessie’s and my first workshop, but with Makenzie heading it we quickly found a pattern and everything fell into place. The workshop aimed to educate other people on relationships and what FOXY is all about, and it accomplished this and more. I think I learned a lot as well, like how to play of the crowd’s reaction and connect with the audience. I thought my drama background had already trained me on that, but turns out it’s a whole lot different when you’re speaking directly to them and not just entertaining them. Makenzie’s got it down to a science, poking the people who need poking, getting the participation and involvement need for such a workshop. If done wrong we’d all just look like fools up there standing on the picnic tables, but in Makenzie’s hands that’d never happen. I’m looking forward to leading workshops myself, and I can only hope I’ll be as capable as her. I learned a lot that day from her, and from the crowd themselves. I had certainly never heard the word “poochie” used to describe a vagina before.
My favorite part of the afternoon was by far the improvisational skits that required audience participation. We would read out a situation that Makenzie, Jessie, and I had come up with prior to the workshop, such as “A straight person walks into a gay bar,” or “You’re asking your boss to call you by a different pronoun.” All of the skits reflected on situations the LGBTQ community could face, while employing FOXY values on how to keep your relationships healthy. The audience loved it, and the individuals who were brave enough to come up and attempt the improv in front of their peers were rewarded with Skittles. We had packages of Skittles coming out the ying-yang and were happy to spread the rainbow with anyone and everyone. We even had two members of the band Hunter Valentine come stand on the picnic table-stage and act out the skit “You’re trying to tell your grandmother you’re gay.” With the audience highly engaged and the taste of Skittles on our tongues, this was certainly one of the highlights.
Someone told me a story about what happened to them at Pride, and with her permission I wanted to share it. She was walking around with her very openly homosexual friend when someone yelled out at them “FAG!”
It took them both off guard. In the middle of a celebration for gay pride, you wouldn’t expect to hear that insult at all. But there was it, coming from some one directed at someone who was openly and comfortably gay. She spun around about to let loose with rage, but her friend dragged her away telling her to forget about it. The next day she was at Pride again, this time alone, and ran into the person who had yelled out the insult the day before. She approached him and asked what exactly he was doing there. He said, “I’m here with my boyfriend.” Well, that made her jaw drop. When she asked why on earth he would be running around discriminating other gays if he himself was also gay, he replied, “I call him a fag because I’m homophobic. I’m not. I insulted him because he’s a jerk.”
This incident goes to show that a word only holds the meaning we let it take on. Commonly, fag is a nasty slur discriminative towards homosexuals. But, why is that? In England, it is just a cigarette. Sometimes you have to be so careful of what words to employ so as not to offend anyone. But if you’re aiming to offend someone, an insult is still an insult and can still hurt, no matter what words are used, so does it matter if you say fag instead of jerk? When words like fag end up with multiple meanings, you gotta wonder where to draw the line. Is a gay person using the word with that kind of negative connotation as an insult more justifiable than a straight person using it? Or is that just another double standard?
— Sophie Grogono