LGBTQ & Ally Voices of MiQ is an interview series that’s part of our Pride celebrations. In this blog, we’ll hear from MiQ people who are in different roles, in different countries, with different experiences. They’ll tell us about their story, how they’re celebrating Pride and what it means to them. This is just one of the ways we’re supporting the LGBTQ+ community and raising awareness. It reflects how far society has come, but how far we still need to go.
Name: Kate Garvey
Pronouns: They / them
Role: Executive assistant
Do you have a favorite Pride memory?
My first Pride (2016 in Toronto) is my favorite memory. I was able to see everyone being their full selves – happy, celebrating, colourful, vibrant, loud, crowded, and utterly immersed in celebrating “love is love”. With all the turmoil and history LGBTQ+ members face, it was eye-opening seeing the strength, resilience, overall acceptance and love for everyone. All without any fear, shame, worry or negativity. Everyone seemed free and so utterly proud of who we/they are. For me, that was a really awakening and life changing moment.
What does LGBTQ+ Pride mean to you?
In not too many words, everything! Pride is about remembering everyone in the past, present and future who has been, or will be, unable to love freely. People who aren’t able to be who they were born to be. It reminds us of the fight we have every single day, and the fact representation matters so much – especially during these times. Pride is a community and a safe place for people to be who they are and to love who they want, without judgment or reprimand. Pride is there to showcase allies, provide support to the community and show that love is love. Pride is our voice for people who are unable to have a voice.
What do you find inspirational about Pride month?
Knowing where our fight has come from and the bravery of the people who made (and continue to make) Pride what it is today. It’s inspirational watching our community and people grow, not just in Canada, but across the world. One day, it will be accepted by the majority. And seeing everyone who believes in that is very powerful. It’s motivation to keep our heads high and stay strong! The people of Pride are always my biggest inspiration.
How will you be getting involved with and celebrating Pride this year?
We’ll be going to all our favorite bars on Church Street and attending the Toronto Pride parade! We’ll also be donating to The Rainbow Railroad charity, which supports people in countries where there are no human rights for the LGBTQ+ community. The charity helps people get to Canada safely, and sorts things like accommodation.
Who was the first LGBTQ+ character/celebrity you remember seeing?
Carol and Susan from ‘Friends’. I watched this show as a teenager, and their iconic lesbian wedding was one of the first openly gay marriages on TV at the time. It’s something I’ll never forget. It was normalized, and this representation gave me what I needed to not feel ashamed about my sexuality. This really helped me to understand the LGBTQ+ community and where I felt like I ‘fit in’. To this day, Carol and Susan are still two of my favorite lesbian characters on TV.
Who is your LGBTQ+ hero and what have they taught you?
My wife, Deborah Zhu! I say that without any doubt. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but she is absolutely inspirational. I cannot believe how strong and resilient she has been, and still continues to be.
Debbie comes from a Chinese Christian faith upbringing. Her father was a Pastor who moved from Shanghai to Toronto back in the 1980’s. Unfortunately, Debbie still isn’t supported by her family. Growing up, her family didn’t accept her sexuality and her upbringing was surrounded by shame.
Despite this, Debbie remains forever kind, caring and strong. She’s got faith that her parents will accept her fully one day. Her positivity and pure heart of hope, joy and selflessness have taught me patience, understanding and a willingness to never give up on what sometimes feels hopeless.
I’ll leave it there, but if anyone would like to know more or has any questions, we’re an open book here to help, listen, talk and inspire.
What messages do you hear about LGBTQ+ people in your daily life, and from your family, friends and colleagues?
Every day, we hear about human rights being taken away from people in our community, people taking their own lives for being LGBTQ+ and people being murdered for their way of life. Those are just a few examples in North America. There’s more media exposure in 2022, but it highlights the need to push harder for our basic human rights – all across the world. We must continue to fight for our freedom. If it impacts one of us, it impacts all of us!
How have allies supported you in the past?
They keep on fighting our fight alongside us and working for full human rights for LGBTQ+ people. They speak up and stand up when things aren’t right in the world, and educate themselves and others. I’m very lucky to have best friends, allies and overall support. It’s something I don’t take for granted. My allies have given me the best life I could ever ask for. They know who they are, and they all make me a better, stronger human. Equality for all!
What advice do you wish you had growing up and what would you say to a young LGBTQ+ person now?
Be exactly who you want and were born to be, and don’t be afraid to find your true self. If your family doesn’t support you or believe in your truth, then go and find the LGBTQ+ family out there. You’ll be welcomed with open arms and encouraged to be your glorious self. There are so many support groups and people who want to help!
Once you take the first step, you will find the love, freedom and happiness you deserve. I have to remind myself sometimes, but my biggest bit of advice is that time is key for healing, learning and growth. Patience and hard work will always prevail.