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Category Archives: LGBT2Q+ Profiles

LGBT2Q+ Business Profile – Sweetnam’s Nik Naks

“Sweetnam’s – Your little bit of everything store!”

Sweetnam’s Nik Naks, located at 2067 Enterprise Way, is a fun collectible novelty style store with lots of nerdy movie and gaming gifts, like pop figures, dungeons and dragons, keychains, wallets, socks, toys, games, buttons, and seasonal décor, where they strive to create a safe place where everyone from all walks of life can relax and enjoy their personalized customer service.

Beginning their journey as a niche store, Sweetnam’s tried to provide for the needs of people, who like them, live on a tight budget, providing their customers the opportunity to buy simple birthday gifts, decorations, and unique items at affordable prices.

Originally located in Salmo, one of the owners, Josiah Sweetnam says, “My brother and I grew up with our parents owning the business since 2002. Then we moved the store to Barriere, BC. I have always liked the idea of owning a business and loved running lemonade stands when my brother and I were younger.

“Then 6 years ago, I wanted to move back to Kelowna, where I was born, and see what it was like to run a business in a bigger city, so my dad, brother, and I set up Sweetnam’s Nik Naks in Kelowna.”

Along the way, Sweetnam’s also got involved with some comic-cons, KFX, Penti-Con, KCC, and Northern Fancon, where they realized how much they loved being a part of the comic-con family.

In addition to running the store, Josiah loves cosplay and creating costumes for it. He has been sewing for a while and has taken some courses for it, plus he is a huge fantasy sci-fi fan and loves everything to do with fandoms.

Josiah only recently came out as gay and it has been a difficult struggle, especially when coming from a small community where it is not as openly accepted. He is fortunate to have the support of his dad, brother, gramma, a couple of close friends, and some of his comic-con family, but Josiah has been nervous about stepping out and letting others know. Thankfully, the LGBT2Q+ community here in Kelowna has quietly shown their support and kindness to him while he’s gone through this process and so they all feel that supporting the community back is their way of saying thank you and continuing to foster this compassionate understanding community that they’ve benefitted from.  

When asked what his favourite thing about running Sweetnam’s Nik Naks is, Josiah said, “It’s our store, so we can take the time to talk with people, listen, lift them up if needed, and be lifted up just the same. It is not simply about selling stuff.”

You can also find Sweetnam’s online at https://sweetnamsniknaks.com/

Inuvik Man Speaks Up About Being Transgender in a Small town

Draydon Allum says while growing up that there weren’t always resources to learn about being transgender in his small town in Inuvik.

Allum said he always knew he wanted to transition someday, and to start taking testosterone as part of that process, but with limited access to transgender-specific care in the territory, he wasn’t sure how. 

Growing up in the remote, northern town, he said there were no resources available to learn about being transgender — until he helped start the Aurora Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at East Three Secondary School. 

Kirsten FennCBC News

To read more of this story, follow the link to CBC News

(Image Credit: Submitted by Draydon Allum)

Confessions of an Enthusiastic Yet Reluctant TV Host

The host of Unicorns.LIVE’s QUSIC reflects on the journey thus far, and where he hopes the show will go…

Here we are — the middle of October 2020 already, and just about at the end of the first season of QUSIC. It’s safe to say that none of us expected this year to turn out the way it has; life in 2020 has really become synonymous with that old gem “rolling with the punches”. When I look back on what has been an extremely challenging year, I have to say that hosting QUSIC has certainly been one of the highlights. 

When QUSIC was first proposed, I was ecstatic. The opportunity to work with and promote the talents of LGBT2Q+ musicians was incredibly appealing, and hot off the heels of several very successful Peak Pride events I was basking in the after-glow of being surrounded by other queer folx as well as incredibly supportive allies. The overall concept of QUSIC is absolute genius: if you’re as yet unfamiliar with what the show is about, here are the historical details…  

QUSIC is a new LGBT2Q+ Artist Music Series, in which all presenting artists identify under the LGBT2Q+ spectrum. QUSIC celebrates the LGBT2Q+ community, which includes individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit as well as a range of other gender and sexual identities. The show features solo performers, duos or group acts, provided that the majority of the band and the headlining artist identifies as LGBTQ2+. QUSIC has been streaming live on Unicorns.LIVE (watch.unicorns.live) every second Wednesday at 7:00 pm (PST) since May 27, 2020 with episodes available to subscribers to the streaming platform after they air. 

This, however, was not always the plan: enter COVID-19, stage right…

As is the case for all of us on Planet Earth 2020, the pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt. For us at Rebellious Unicorns Production Company Inc.  (aka, RUPC, the company behind QUSIC and Unicorns.LIVE) every project we were working on was disrupted, put on hold, or had to be reimagined. Luckily, we were able to make some tasty lemonade out of the rotten, shitty batch of lemons the Universe had just handed us.

“What now? What do we do? How do we make sure these artists are getting paid? How do we get their music out to the intended audience? What does the show even look like?” These were among myriad questions that dominated our conversations. QUSIC, which was meant to be a multi-city performance opportunity for LGBT2Q+ musicians, suddenly became something very different than how it was originally conceived. And yet, it was somehow perfect for the strange world we suddenly found ourselves in. 

To be honest, it took a bit of courage for me to outright ask for the hosting job. Despite how I may sometimes come across to people who watch the show, I don’t enjoy the spotlight. I’d rather be a facilitator in helping others tell their stories, putting the details together, or assisting others along the way during their journey to wherever they’re headed. Given the situation, I knew I had the chops for the gig — I started a career in broadcasting when I was just 19 years old. While I haven’t worked exclusively in this field, I’m blessed with the ability to connect and converse with others quite easily and enjoyably. 

One of my greatest joys as host of QUSIC has been connecting with the artists, getting to know them and their music, and becoming a fan of their work.

It has been an absolute privilege to interview every single one of our guests, and then sit back and listen/watch them express exactly what they need to in that moment. I’ve sometimes been brought to tears (happy or sad); listened to the stories of how they express themselves through song; learned about other sexual and gender identities; and I’ve been forced to examine the relationship with my own queerness. I’ve been given this incredible opportunity to become a part of these people’s stories, and their music has completely enriched my life. This I know unequivocally. 

And yet, a degree of frustration exists. I find myself becoming so angry with current musical content because everything sounds irritatingly familiar, like it’s all been done before. So much of what I hear or see in pop media has just become regurgitated and rebooted bullshit. I love a good remix or a solid cover, but for the love of all that is holy: where is the originality?Where are the new voices? Where are the stories that we can connect with and move us to think and feel and evolve? QUSIC — that’s where. It might not be the entire answer, but it’s certainly a major part of it. When I’ve had the privilege of watching those who have performed on QUSIC, I’ve quite often asked myself, “Why does the world not know more of you?”. 

Let me be clear: this is not a broad criticism of everything that becomes widely popular, and I’ve not calling for an all-out queer takeover of the music industry. But the time is nigh for queer artists producing original, musical content to have their moment. Not all stories that need to be told are straight, white, male, and cis-gender. I’m so incredibly passionate about what I do with QUSIC because, from what I’ve been exposed to thus far in my journey with QUSIC, there are many tales (IMHO) that more people in general should be listening to and learning from. Music is music is music. As humans, we have been gifted the ability to create this wondrous artform that allows us to express so many thoughts and feelings, at times even empowering disenfranchised groups in society to bring about change. And, sometimes, maybe that wondrous artform just allows us to enjoy love for the sake of love, or experience anguish because it hurts…because we are all human. 

We’ve come a long way since debuting this show in May 2020 during a pandemic. I’m so grateful to the team I work with to create this project, and I can’t wait to discover what we have in store for the next series. QUSIC, like life, is a work in progress. Moving forward, I’d really like to see this show become a true vehicle for emerging artists’ careers, a place where past guests feel they want to return to, and a platform that attracts established artists to share their stories and songs. I’ve already been so impressed with the calibre of talent we’ve hosted during Season One; I’d really like to see QUSIC become an entity that enters the conversation in the music world and in the larger community. Season One is winding down, but I hope the audiences, viewers, and the artists (the reason we do this in the first place) are ready to strap in alongside me for the musical rollercoaster ride that is yet to begin. 

QUSIC will air three more regular season episodes through mid-November on select Wednesdays at 7:00 pm (PST); on October 14, October 28, and November 18, 2020. A special Season Finale is in the works for December; stay tuned for details.

Non-Binary Mechanic Offers Welcoming Space for LGBT2Q+ Community

‘The Roaming Ratchet’ offers a safe space for those in the LGBT2Q+ community that might feel uncomfortable going to a traditional garage.

A mechanic from Merrickville, Ont., has launched a mobile garage service with a twist: Along with tune-ups and oil changes, Kai Dean’s business, The Roaming Ratchet, also promises a safe and welcoming space for the region’s LGBT community. 

“I’m a non-binary human, so that means I don’t identify as a man or a woman. Yes, we exist,” said Dean, 36, who has worked in the automotive trade for more than a decade and knows that some people are ill at ease in a traditional garage setting.

Hallie CotnamCBC News

To read more of this story, follow the link to CBC News

(Image Credit: Francis Ferland/CBC)

Okanagan Queerstory Podcast Launching Soon

Uncovering the queer history of the Okanagan one story at a time.

Donna Langille,  the Community Engagement Librarian at UBC Okanagan used the funding to create a podcast with her research partner Taysha JarrettThe Okanagan QueerStory Podcast is about the queer history of the Okanagan and the people who have lived through it.

Shauna OddleifsonUBCO Public Humanities Hub

To read more of this story, follow the link to the Public Humanities Hub

(Image Credit: Donna Langille)

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