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Category Archives: Op-ed

Loyal to Diversity


Loyal Wooldridge is a successful entrepreneur – operating Loyal Hair, a full-service luxury hair salon since 2006 – and in fall 2018, he was elected to Kelowna City Council. Loyal was the only newcomer elected, as all of the other councillors that were voted in were incumbents.

So, how does a business owner and recently-elected politician capitalize on all Kelowna has to offer? Luckily for us, Loyal is here to share his thoughts on what makes Kelowna awesome!

Go to Tourism Kelowna to read more…

New Queer Book Club in Town

Come join us at Rainbow Reads – The Okanagan’s (Probably) First Queer Book Club

After a few drinks at the wonderful Friends of Dorothy Lounge in downtown Kelowna, talking about our mutual love of books, we wondered: why not create a queer book club? So, we did.

Brought to you by Donna (she/her) and Claire (they/them), Rainbow Reads Okanagan is a fun and inclusive book club to read and discuss queer books written by queer authors.

Don’t have time to finish the book? Don’t worry! Everyone is welcome! 

Each month, members can vote on Facebook from a shortlist of suggestions for which book they would like to read. We’re an official book club at Mosaic Books, which means participants get a 15% discount on their book purchase from their store by mentioning the name of the book club.

This way we can support local business as we continue to head out of lockdown…

We will also offer options for members to purchase or borrow ebooks or audiobooks copies as well.

We have chosen our first book: Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir, by Kai Cheng Thom. Kai Cheng is a writer, performer, cultural worker, and speaker from Toronto, who sounds like an all-around-incredible thinker and writer.

The plan is to meet once per month – virtually at first until COVID-related restrictions are lifted, and small groups can gather again without physical distancing. We expect (and fully hope) that over time we can meet in queer-friendly, accessible places in Kelowna to chat over drinks and snacks.

This book club aims to create a fun space to read and enjoy queer books and hopefully make new friends. Our first meeting will be on Zoom on Tuesday June 23, at 7 pm.

We are lovely people, so don’t be afraid to come and say hello! You can join us, and stay up to date with Rainbow Reads by:

Joining our Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowreadsok

Dropping us an email: rainbowreadsok@gmail.com

Queer & Quarantined – Volume 1

How the COVID – 19 Pandemic and Self-isolation is Affecting Queer People

The COVID-19 pandemic and the personal responsibility of self-isolation are likely some of the most difficult situations that we will experience in our lifetimes. The pandemic also adds another layer of stress and challenges to those who are historically disenfranchised, such as indigenous peoples, those with low incomes, and of course, queer people. 

I decided to speak with some LGBTQ2+ community members to see how the pandemic was affecting them. This project is intended to show how we are united against a common threat and are not alone in our struggles.

I first spoke with Raymond Koehler, human rights advocate and coordinator for the Senior Gay Men’ group for Kelowna. Raymond has over 30 years of experience as a community frontline health care support worker, but now, “as a 70-year-old cancer survivor with diabetes and a traumatic brain injury,” he has been forced to self-isolate, as he is extremely susceptible to COVID-19. 

Raymond remarks that his “life experience has led [him] to believe that one of the worst possible outcomes in life would be to be left with the feeling of being alone.” In [his] case, “although only a very few of his family contacts remain in place and are great distances away, [he] has been ‘gifted’ with the love and support of longtime companion, husband, and full-time caregiver, Manuel.”

He acknowledges that many queer people do not have this privilege, and is grateful for the blessings he has been given in life. Manuel manages all necessary errands, including a monthly trip to the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank, and the pair have been stoutly supported by their medical team throughout this stressful time. 

Raymond still continues to act as a spokesperson for the Senior Gay Men and other community-based programs through computer and telephone. He highlights how important these community relationships are to him.

This is a common theme amongst queer people, many whom are struggling to cope without having ‘regular’ community interactions. However, Raymond is confident that “we will find ways to ‘carry on’ with a gratitude attitude,” and sends digital hugs, solidarity, and pride!

This article was written by James Sieben, the Youth LGBTQPOC2+ Okanagan contributor for Kelowna.LGBT

YO – Gender Stereotyping is F#*ked

What I’ve Noticed About Gender

For trans people, ‘passing’ is a privilege that not everyone is afforded. If someone doesn’t pass as the gender they identify as, they can be faced with discrimination, denial of services, harassment, and assault.

I came out as trans this past summer, and am currently in an interesting stage of my transition where I usually am able to pass as a man, but there are still very occasional instances where I don’t.

When I pass as a man, people are surprised when I tell them that I work as a nanny, and some even say, “No, but what do you really do?” I originally was taken aback by this shocked reaction, as this was just considered typical when I was presenting as female. Now, I am sadly starting to expect disbelief and even resistance from these statements. However, familiarity of this sort can lead to de-sensitivity and in turn, being less willing to act, which terrifies me.

However, the most significant thing I’ve observed about gender since I’ve come out is the toxicity of misogyny.  I have noticed that people are kinder and more respectful when I pass as male, versus when I don’t pass as well, or when I was presenting more feminine before I came out. People greet me openly and seem more willing to listen to what I have to say. In contrast, the more friendly receptions I received while still presenting as female consisted of older men calling me ‘sweetheart,’ ‘dear,’ or ‘honey.’

I obviously knew that misogyny was extremely prevalent and harmful before I came out, being directly affected by it when I was viewed by others as a girl. However, experiencing the profound differences in the way I’m treated firsthand is almost beyond belief, and I am beyond disgusted and shocked by how extensive it truly is.

Trans men and those trans enby people who present as more masculine have a unique perspective on gender and misogyny. Many of us have experienced gender-based discrimination in relation to femininity before coming out, but now have a certain level of male privilege that comes with passing.

Therefore, it is so important that us transmasc folx use our newfound male privilege to speak up for those who aren’t given the same platform, listen and integrate the perspectives of all women, and call out chauvinistic attitudes to dismantle the patriarchy and ideals of toxic masculinity for everyone.

Written by James Seiben, a Youth Okanagan contributor for Kelowna.LGBT