Transcription: Episode 1: Stéphanie
Thank you to Sonia Levebvre for transcribing this episode.
Bonjour! Hi! Mon nom c’est Stephanie, puis j’vais être l’hôte du podcast Gaytineau! My name is Stephanie and I’ll be the host of the Gaytineau podcast! [laughs]
This podcast, I’m hoping, will be a way for me to connect with LGBTQ+ folks in the region and a kind of investigation into whether or not there’s a community that I feel like I belong to here and that other other people feel they belong to. It’s gonna start by me just talking to some friends about what it’s like to live here as queer people, as trans people, and about what it’s like to be queer and trans here, what we feel that we do have here, why we are here, why we haven’t left, why we wanted to be better, what we want for it, what it’s like to identify as queer and French [laughs]. Parce que c’est pas toujour évident!. What it’s like to navigate our healthcare system, or just everyday life in Gatineau as a queer and trans person. And I’m hoping that I can get a sense of who is my community here.
I guess I’ll just introduce myself and give you context for why I wanted to do this. Like I said earlier, my name is Stephanie, I use the pronouns she and her, j’utilise les pronoms elles en francais. I am 23 years old, I graduated from uOttawa in April of 2017 and I’m currently working a part-time job in Aylmer. I live at home with my maman, my sister and my step-dad. We live in Aylmer, I was born in Ottawa but we always lived in Aylmer. I went to school here until CEGEP, and then went to CEGEP still in Gatineau, and went to l’UQO for a year. I did mostly visual arts and then I went to uOttawa to do women’s studies.
Between going from CEGEP to university and then to uOttawa, I started volunteering with an organization in Ottawa called The Ten Oaks Project, who organize a camp called Project Acorn. That camp is for queer and trans youth and youth from queer and trans families, and that’s pretty much what connected me to the LGBT community in Ottawa. Or at least to a part of it, and then introduced me to all these organizations that I now know exist there, and what introduced me to anti-oppression. I was already familiar with feminism, but it really gave me an idea of what colonialism is, and what anti-racism means and a bunch of other stuff like that. It really changed my life in the sense that it introduced me to so many people that are now my friends and who I think I consider to be my community. But they’re all in Ottawa, most of them anyway.
There’s also the reality that most of the friends that I made in high school or in CEGEP that were queer are now outside of Aylmer. Either they’ve moved to Montreal or Toronto, and I have a friend in Quebec as well. Yeah, people leave. People leave Gatineau, leave Aylmer, because we feel like there’s bigger and better things to do elsewhere. Mostly I think a lot of us feel like we don’t have space here for ourselves, that we don’t necessarily see ourselves living here in the long run. I have felt that before, I still feel it from time to time, and I think this project, the podcast, is a way for me to stay connected to my desire to make this place better.
Part of how I do that is through and event call Chalk-Rainbow or Craie-en-Ciel which I’ve organized with friends for seven summer now, this is the eighth year if we do it this summer. We invite people to gather in the Memorial Park in Aylmer, which is kind of like an old marketplace and there’s a farmer’s market there in the summer, and there’s a big round piece of pavement around a monument and there’s a few benches and a lot of trees and it’s a cool place to hang out. But there’s not much happening there usually. A few years ago we decided to draw some rainbows with chalk on that spot and write some messages of positivity and just presence about the LGBT community in Aylmer. At first it was just friends but then we decided to make it more public and invite more people. It’s been going really well! We usually have about 50 people per day that come, and it’s just once a year in the afternoon in the summer. I think that it’s the only event that I’ve seen around that’s organized by people for people, that’s not a fundraiser or organized by an organization. So I think it’s important, but I’m also struggling to keep it going. I could talk about that for a while but yeah! That’s been my history here, there’s more I’m sure.
I think I will introduce myself, ask the questions I would ask my guests and go from there. So yeah, I’ve already said my name, the pronouns I use, I already introduced myself basically. I usually ask people for three staples of either style, food, books or other stuff like that. I would go with food because it’s the easiest thing I can think of. I would say three staples of food for me are hummus and pita, they go together. I think, oh God okay, eggs, I can do pretty good eggs! And definitely samosas, I can’t make them but I fucking love eating them, and plantain chips. I feel like those are snacks that I go to that I feel like, safe food for me.
The next question that I ask myself is what’s my sign. I’m a Virgo, I’m a Virgo ascendent, no Virgo sun, I’m a Virgo. I won’t go into the rest of my chart because I feel like that would reveal too much, and you can guess if that’s fun for you [laughs] as you get to know me, or if you know me.
How did I come to live here? As I said I was born here. Well I was born in a hospital in Ottawa but we already lived in Aylmer. I’ve lived outside of Aylmer for two years, two and a half years maybe? And we lived outside in the country in Luskville, so it’s not that far.
How did we meet? I mean [laughs] I ask that to other people.
What do I do? Right now I’m working part-time as an administrative assistant for a small business and I’m working on this podcast which is a brand new project for me. I’ve never done this before. I’m volunteering with the community engagement committee for the Ten Oaks Project and I’m hoping to integrate the Coalition of LGBT Families of Quebec really soon, I am hoping to organize with them. Yeah! [laughs]. And I am hoping to get involved with other organizations this year and try to build more connections I guess.
How is it like to live in Gatineau? I guess I could say as a queer woman, I’m a cisgender woman, I am white, I am fat, I am… I think that’s pretty much what I go to. J’suis francophone. And that’s one this for this podcast I feel like, because I want to reach more people I want to do it in English but, I also want to speak to the people who live here, so I want to do it in French. So I might just switch between the two, which might alienate some folks but is more reflective of who I am as a person [laughs]. Or of how I express myself? Of my dialect I guess. So anyway, that’ll be a challenge, but how is it living here in Gatineau as a queer woman? I think it’s been mostly okay for me. It hasn’t been very difficult. I feel like I’ve had a pretty good experience of being in high school, finding out I was gay, coming out I had a really supportive group of friends and also a really queer group of friends so that really helped. I had a really easy time finding a community in a nearby city, and I’ve had really a privileged experience of being able to access these communities and being able to access university. I’ve worked for the Pride Center at the University of Ottawa and I feel like that gave me so much. I worked with volunteers which was amazing. I feel like I’ve had a really [laughs] I’ve had a good time. What I find is missing, why I want to do this and why I have a hard time sometimes is that I feel like there’s not a lot that connects me to Gatineau itself. I feel like we’re kind of an afterthought, or kind of like we’re implicitly included into things, but there’s not a lot of programming for LGBT folks or families. There’s not a lot of intentionally getting together. On a Jeunesse Idem comme organisme puis y font vraiment du bon travail. C’est un organisme qui est essentiel dans la région, mais leur capacité est vraiment limité en terme de budget, en terme de qu’est-ce-qu’ils peuvent faire, puis aussi leur mission c’est aussi plus d’offrir un soutien puis d’offrir des interventions au familles et au jeunes. Y’a pas grand chose pour les aînés, y’a rien pour les aînés à ce que je sache, puis y’a vraiment rien pour les adultes ou pour les jeunes adultes. J’me retrouve à être dans une période un peu bizarre ou j’ai 23 ans alors j’suis passé la phase ou j’me sens comme si j’fais parti de la jeunesse, mais j’suis pas encore pleine adulte si on veut, j’ai pas encore les responsabilités puis la réalité des adultes qui sont pleinement indépendant. Puis en terme de groupe d’âge aussi, j’me sens pas comme j’suis parmi mes paires quand j’suis dans un groupe d’adultes. Mais j’me sens pas comme si j’suis parmi mes paires avec des ados, du tout, faos que, c’est un peu une période bizarre. Y’a pas grand choses pour mon groupe d’âge ici. C’est pas une ville qui est très, qui nourri le radicalisme, ou pas le radicalisme mais juste, les politiques qui sont plus radicales. C’est vraiment une banlieue vais que y’a pas grand monde qui restent ici qui ont des politiques qui sont plus radicales, qui sont plus, j’dirais pas plus progressives mais, ouais.
I think, ouais, c’est comme ça vivre ici, c’est comme y’a presque juste assez. Y manque un sense de communauté, mais le pire que j’vie c’est des instances d’hétéronomativité puis d’hétérosexisme, j’vie pas autant d’homophobie. T’sais j’vie du sexisme puis tout ça mais en terme d’être queer, c’est pas la fin du monde.
Have you ever considered leaving or living elsewhere? Why stay? I’ve considered leaving pretty often. I consider it every few weeks, not seriously but. I have a lot of friends who are in Montreal and are from Gatineau and who are doing really well for themselves over there. Or at least, who are happy to be there. It always makes me think about how more easy it would be to be there and how much easier it would be to be independent in Montreal, versus here. I’m still learning how to drive so I can be more independent and that comes at a cost, like I have to buy a car, I have to figure all that out. I think about leaving, even to Ottawa, just to be closer to friends, to be closer to community and services and just a vibrant community and more businesses that I like. And employment as well, I feel like I’ll inevitably be working in Ottawa at some point. I think that Gatineau doesn’t offer me much these days, so I think I have to give to it before it gives to me, but I don’t think it’s going to give me. So it’s a challenge, I think I stay because of comfort. Its familiarity, its home, and I’m still trying to figure out what that means, but it’s home for now and I think it’ll always be home, in a way. I stay because I grew up here, because I like it here in some ways. I’m still trying to figure out why I stay, if it isn’t because I’m afraid to leave. I think doing this podcast is kind of trying to answer that question [laughs]. I should too! Why don’t I leave? So we’ll see I guess.
What do I want to see more of here? What would make it easier to live here? J’veux voir plus de ressources en francais pour les personnes queer, pour les personnes trans, surtout. Pour les familles LGBT j’veux voir plus d’événement pour les jeunes, pour les familles, pour les aînés. J’veux voir plus de relations inter-générationnelle bâti intentionnellement, j’veux voir plus d’anti-oppression, de projets antiracistes, de projets intentionnellement pour les personnes lesbiennes, gaies, bisexuelles, trans, queer, intersexe, two-spirit, bispirituelle en francais, j’oublie tout le temps! J’veux voir plus de reconnaissance du fait qu’on est là, j’veux voir plus d’occasion ou on laisse derriere les mesdames messieurs puis on est plus neutre dans le genre, j’veux voir plus d’inclusion des personnes non-binaires. Juste l’inclusion des personnes trans en général! J’pense c’est vraiment des gens qu’on oublie dans no politiques, juste dans n’importe quelle programmation qu’on fait. J’veux juste plus d’occasion de rencontrer des gens queer a Aylmer. J’veux que les jeunes se sentent capable d’être eux-même ici puis se sentir comme, like they stick out? Like they stand out? Not in a bad way in any way. Ouais, j’veux qu’on se rende à un point ou j’ai pas a poser toute ces questions là, basically.
What’s an accomplishment that I’m most proud of? Finir mon bacc ça à été un gros événement dans ma vie. It was really hard, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder in my second year of university, well third, and I’m still figuring that out. I’m doing much better, but it was a lot. In that time I was constantly overwhelmed, not coping really well. Now my life is much different. I think my life, going to therapy, and figuring out how to deal with anxiety is my biggest accomplishment so far. Or just the work that I’ve done in therapy! I feel like it’s weird to talk about it publicly but, I think it’s important. I’m also proud of everything that I’ve done with the Ten Oaks Project, being on the Youth Advisory Committee for that, and building two Project Acorn camps was really amazing. Yeah, those are like five but I’m proud of all of them!
Any projects for the future that I have? I want this podcast to be so successful, I want it to reach the kids that need it, I want it to reach the parents that need it, I want it to reach the young adults that feel isolated like me who need it. I want to believe that there’s more people that I don’t know yet that are going to benefit from this or who I’m going to be able to meet and become a community with. So that’s a project, I really want this, I really think this is going to be successful.
My favourite place in Gatineau? God damn. I think it’s the beach of Aylmer. La plage dans le parc des Cèdres. I think that’s my favourite place. I really love our river, I really love Kitchissippi, and I really appreciate the view there. I have a lot of good memories of that place, a lot of emotional memories. I live super near it now and it’s just, I love it! I love it.
And I think one of the things I also want for this podcast is to be, to not, I was going to say to be decolonial but I don’t know how much that can be true. I want it to not contribute to a colonial Canadian project. I want to recognize that this is unceded, I think Algonquin territory? I feel like I need to do research. But I want to recognize my ignorance there and that it means that this is home for me but it’s not my land, it’s not my ancestral territory. And there’s a whole history of violence and of genocide that led to me being here. I want to recognize that as I do this podcast about this city, about the construct of Gatineau and where we are now. I think there’s a lot to be said about how colonization benefited, or contributed to and used violence against queer people and trans people to instate itself. There’s a lot of links to be made so I’m hoping I get to talk a bit more about that, hoping I get to figure out a but more of that. Maybe I’ll do a special episode where I talk about some research I’ve done or maybe just bring it up every once in a while. I want it to be a constant conversation, or part of the constant conversation. Hopefully I’ll get to talk with people who are Anishinabe and who have a relationship to this land and who are queer, or trans, or two-spirit. So I guess that’s just setting an intention, on the record and yeah, I’m going to do work so that we get there!
And then my last question for myself would be what can you wish me for the future? You can wish me success in this endeavor [laughs]. You can wish me a good year of 2018 and, yeah, I think you can wish me luck as I get on this journey.
And I think that’s it! Thank you for listening to this first episode of Gaytineau the podcast. I hope you’re interested and will share it with your friends who are interested and I hope that you will want to listen to the next one. I promise it will be super interesting, I have some really cool people lined up as guests and I’m really excited for you to meet them.