June is Pride Month, a time for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ communities to reaffirm their identity, celebrate their culture, and commemorate the past.
For allies, this is also a time to educate yourself on the diverse lived experiences of people in these communities, learning ways to breakdown systemic barriers and discrimination that still exist today.
In honor of Pride Month, we’re highlighting 2SLGBTQ+-owned and led businesses you should support, community organizations you can volunteer with, and books to read.
This 2SLGBTQ+ landmark, situated in the heart of Toronto’s Gay Village, is the oldest surviving queer bookshop in North America. Serving the community since 1970, the Glad Day Bookshop offers a wide selection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, and queer literature. While the bookshop is momentarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still order the 2SLGBTQ+ books and attend their events online.
Revel and Riot, a Montréal-based non-profit, creates graphics that “spark conversation and awareness” and promote 2SLGBTQ+ equality, pride, visibility, and justice. The organization donates a portion of its shirts’ sales to support other queer organizations and causes, and hosts a collection of educational resources focused on anti-oppression, transgender health, internalized homophobia, and 2SLGBTQ+ history.
Queer Gear is a queer-identified, woman-owned apparel brand that’s dedicated to bringing high-quality, inclusive, and empowering accessories to its clients. This brand creates must-have pieces that are perfect for expressing your identity in a proud, unique, and unapologetic way.
Stuzo Clothing is a gender-free clothing line that emphasizes the Indigenous, Black, and racialized Queer communities. The business identifies as “non-conforming and bold at heart because clothes don’t have any organs”. Stuzo chooses to celebrate humans from all walks of life, shapes, and sizes. You can order items from their latest collection by clicking on the above link.
This queer-owned brand’s mission is to create inclusive clothing and accessories that enable you to show your pride all year round while giving back to the community. Passionfruit’s apparel and accessories are designed, curated, and produced by queer artists. A percentage of the proceeds from each item helps to provide free counselling for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
The 519 is a meeting place and community hub for the downtown-Toronto 2SLGBTQ+ community. There are diverse year-round volunteer opportunities, including events, program, services, tax clinics, and legal clinics. The 519 also provides counselling services for 2SLGBTQ+ youths, seniors, newcomers, and families. You can register to volunteer here.
Community One supports individuals and groups to enhance the development of 2SLGBTQ+ communities in the GTA, specifically in the Peel, Durham, Halton, and York regions. The Foundation provides programs focused on education, health, human rights, and art. Currently, there are volunteer opportunities in areas such as communications, events, project management, and corporate sponsorships.
Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project is the leading organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to the 2SLGBTQ+ youth community. There are several remote/virtual volunteer opportunities focused on crisis prevention. You can find the full list here.
The Lesbian Gay Bi Trans YouthLine is a Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit youth-led organization that affirms and supports the experiences of youth (29 & under) across Ontario. Currently, there are three volunteer positions available to join YouthLine’s board of directors.
Pride Toronto supports 2SLGBTQ+ communities in their pursuit of unequivocal rights to be known, heard, understood, and accepted. This organization also manages and leads Toronto’s annual Pride Parade. While 2021’s Pride Parade has been cancelled due to COVID-19, Pride Toronto is still hosting virtual events to celebrate and commemorate the 2SLGBTQ+ community. You can also find a full list of volunteer opportunities for the 2021 cohort here.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Ocean Voung)
This is the debut novel by Vietnamese American author and poet Ocean Voung. Written in the form of a letter to his mother who cannot read, Voung touches on the lived experiences of an LGTBQ-identifying immigrant, as he explores race, class, and masculinity in modern-day America.
In this book, Samra Habib, a Pakistan-born Canadian, shares her journey of navigating faith, art, love, and queer sexuality. This memoir of forgiveness and family is a testament to the power of self-love and living authentically.
Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer (Stephanie Chambers, Jane Farrow, and Maureen Fitzgerald)
Home to a thriving queer community, Toronto is one of the world’s most diverse cities. Any other way details the history of Toronto’s queer community dating back to Oscar Wilde’s trip to the city, early gay/lesbian bars, LGBT-police conflicts, and more.
Call Me by Your Name (André Aciman)
This novel follows the budding romance between Elio and Oliver in 1980s Italy. Considered as “one of the greatest love stories of our time,” this coming-of-age story explores themes of 2SLGBTQ+ intimacy, attraction, and romance.
Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures (Ivan Coyote)
Writer, storyteller, and performer, Ivan Coyote had spent years travelling on the road sharing stories. In this book, the author shares powerful correspondences from fans and touches on themes of empathy, fragility, non-binary and trans identities, and “the enduing beauty of simply being alive.”