25Sep2023
Sept 17_Post – Copy
Awareness

Bisexual Awareness Week – or BiWeek, for short – is celebrated internationally every year from September 16th to September 23rd. It’s a week devoted to recognising bisexual identity, honouring bisexual achievements, and bringing light to bisexual issues. 

What some people may not know is that BiWeek was originally a single day. And it was started by three bisexual Americans who wanted to have a party. 

How BiWeek Began

In 1999, American bisexual activists Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Raven Wilbur attended the International Lesbian and Gay Association Conference in Johannesburg. As they had been for years, the activists were there to fight for recognition and inclusion of bisexual individuals in the GSRD community and beyond. But they were tired. Tired of asking for a seat at the table. Tired of trying to prove their existence to a world that didn’t want to hear about it.

Sat around at the conference, they vented to each other about wanting a day – just a day – where they could be surrounded, in celebration, by other bisexuals and not have to fight for themselves. Gigi said they should have a party 

And thus, Celebrate Bisexuality Day (also known as CBD) was born. The three decided on the date in September, to commemorate the great bisexual, Freddie Mercury. The exact day of celebration would be on Gigi’s birthday, September 23rd.  

From that year forward, Celebrate Bisexuality Day has been observed internationally to celebrate the bisexual community and decrease biphobia.  

In 2014, bisexual celebrations were extended to one week prior to CBD. We have continued in that fashion ever since.  

Why BiWeek is Important

Did you know that bisexuals constitute a “silent majority” in the GSRD community? They are the majority because studies find that most people in the GSRD community full under the umbrella term of bisexuality – that is, they are attracted to two or more genders. And they are silent because, despite their numbers, they have long been the targets of binegativity.   

Binegativity is a specific form of prejudice associated with individuals who identify as bisexual. It often manifests as beliefs that bisexuals are sexually promiscuous, or “confused” about their sexual orientation. The struggle of bisexual individuals is also twofold, as they face binegativity both from non-GSRD and GSRD communities alike.  

Binegativity from the GSRD community might sound strange at first, but its origins stretch back to the beginning of the GSRD rights movement. Whilst GSRD individuals struggled for recognition of their identities from a heteronormative society, many in the movement felt that bisexuals were being evasive, not wanting to take sides in the fight. Knowing this, it becomes easier to see where the stereotype of bisexuals being “confused” comes from. 

The effects of binegativity are not minor. Bisexual men often struggle with coming out due to the social constraints that masculinity places on their romantic/sexual relationships. Bisexuals also experience higher rates of sexual violence and adverse health outcomes than monosexual (i.e., attraction to only one gender) individuals, as well as increased discrimination in the workplace. Statistics like these make BiWeek a crucial part of the fight against binegativity and invisibility.  

But remember that BiWeek is also a time to celebrate. Celebrate your own bisexual identity, or that of others. Celebrate the achievements and joys and love of the bisexual community.  

But most of all, this BiWeek, we hope that you follow in the footsteps of Wendy, Michael, and Gigi, and have an absolute ball.  

Written by: Serena Celeste Romanelli

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Research Project

September 14 marks the day the The Pussy Palace, Toronto’s first women and transgender bathhouse, opened in 1998. However, two years later in 2000 it also marked the first – and last – police raid of a bathhouse in Toronto.  

The Pussy Palace was the first of its kind in Toronto, as it not only catered to women and transgender folk of all sexualities, but also served as a place for women to openly explore their identities. On September 14, 2000, the club was celebrating its two year anniversary with a huge party filled with socializing, drinking, and, of course, sex. Named the “2000 pussies” party for the anniversary, the festivities were in full swing until two undercover women cops entered the venue. They were followed by five plain-clothes policemen who entered under the guise of searching for liquor license violations. However, many knew that their real intent was to find violation of anti-prostitution laws, of which there were none. During the search the officers also did not warn the attendees of their presence, behaved inappropriately towards them as many were naked or semi-naked, and threatened to charge them with obstruction if they warned other people in the club.  

Two volunteers were charged with liquor licence violations as a result of the raid. But what was most amazing about the aftermath from this particular show of disrespect against the Gender, Sexuality, and Relationship Diverse (GSRD) community was the speed at which action was taken to fight back. The Women’s Bathhouse Committee and the GSRD community alike rallied together with marches to the police headquarters (the first happening minutes after a September 21, 2000 community forum), fundraising for legal and support costs, and protests like the “panty picket” that saw over 100 people shake their underwear at the police.  

On January 31, 2002, the charges were dropped, the judge agreeing that the raid infringed on constitutional rights around privacy. A class-action lawsuit was also filed by the Women’s Bathhouse Committee against the Toronto police and was settled in 2005, granting them $350,000 that went towards legal fees and charity. This was the last raid of a bathhouse in Toronto following a long history of police raids on gay male bathhouses, the lot of them starting in 1981.  

The events and subsequent action around that day are still used as examples and warning to how oppressive forces like the police can harm marginalized communities. Just last year one of the cops who participated in the raid was promoted as Toronto’s new chief of police, which stirred up debate and reinforced the critical eye on the police’s treatment of GSRD folks.  

It also spurred the Pussy Palace Oral History Project, which is run by the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory and aims to “historicize the event within the longer history of Toronto police hostility towards non-normative sexuality.” They gathered most of their research and oral testimony and are currently in the process of creating an immersive digital exhibit, which will be available online. For now, they have posted various audio and visual research for folks to get a glimpse at how the Pussy Palace was on that night, and its legacy beyond. 

A newspaper clipping showing members of the Toronto Women’s Bathouse Committee with the headline “Pussies take a bite out of the cops” Source: The ArQuives

Written by: Madeleine Chan

Volunteer spotlight – POST
Volunteering

Volunteers are vital to the success of our organization and we are grateful for the hundreds of hours our volunteers dedicate to the work of the Canadian Pride Historical Society. This volunteer spotlight is for Shogo Hosoi, one of our Human Resources Coordinators, based out of Tokyo!

How did you first learn about the CPHS? 
I came across a volunteer posting for an HR administrator on Charity Village when I was looking for an opportunity related to my field of study: Human Resource Management. Having volunteered for Pride Toronto in 2022, I was fascinated by the culture of Pride and its integration into the community. From that perspective, I thought that CPHS was the perfect place to volunteer for. 

How do you balance your volunteer time at the CPHS with your other competing priorities? 
I make time for volunteering in the evenings. In addition to my full-time job, I also look after my three-year-old daughter. There is usually a lot on my plate. 

However, having great support from my team makes my tasks clear, which helps me make the most of my limited time. 

How has the CPHS helped you in your professional development?
After completing my Masters at the University of Toronto, I returned to Japan, my home country. Being associated with CPHS helps me to build a bond with my second home, while being involved in the whole process of recruitment, selection and onboarding gives me the opportunity to reflect on and apply my studies in HR. 

What are 3 words to describe the CPHS? 
Inclusive, supportive, meaningful 

What do you like the most about the CPHS? 
I appreciate the generous support and care of my team. Knowing my interest in DEI, my manager provides information on valuable resources and ongoing projects related to the field. I feel that CPHS values and respects each individual in the organisation. 

WED
Awareness

Never underestimate the power of a woman.

Not so long ago, tens of thousands of Canadian women trusted in their power and demanded equal rights with men. They initiated the women’s suffrage movement, eventually granting white women the right to vote in federal elections in 1918. By 1960, the movement had achieved full suffrage for all women across Canada.

Among our neighbours to the south, American women also achieved suffrage at the turn of the century. On August 26, 1920, the United States adopted the 19th Amendment to the Constitution,   prohibits the denial of citizens’ right to vote based on sex. In 1973, Congress officially recognised August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. Canada has also adopted this day in solidarity.

The path towards gender equality in Canada was paved by incredible women and their belief in their own inherent power. For this year’s Women’s Equality Day, let’s put a spotlight on some of those women – of the past and of the present – who have spent their lives making women’s existence in Canada one of agency, assertiveness, and self-actualisation.

Emma Baker

Born in 1856 in Milton, Ontario, Emma Sophia Baker countered the gender expectations of her time both in her personal and her professional life. Instead of marrying and having children, she chose to devote her life to learning and teaching. In 1903, at the age of 47 years old, she became one of the first two women to be awarded a PhD from the University of Toronto. From 1914 until her retirement, she was the chair in Psychology, Ethics, and Economics at the Maryland College for Women in Lutherville, Maryland. Having accomplished things that many women of her time were prevented from, Emma Sophia Baker died at the age of 87 and was buried in London, Ontario.  

Mary-Woo Sims

Being a woman in a patriarchal society can be hard. Being a queer woman in a patriarchal society can be even harder. Where sexism and homophobia intersect lie issues that are unique to queer women, like the forced heterosexual marriages of many queer women around the world. Not only are their rights at risk on the grounds of their sex, but they are also at risk on the grounds of their sexuality. It is a volatile form of double oppression.  

Hong-Kong-born social activist, and out-and-proud lesbian, Mary-Woo Sims moved to Canada as a student in 1970 and has since devoted her life to promoting the rights of women and gender, sexuality, and relationship diverse (GSRD) communities. In the 70s she became a founding member of the Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre in Vancouver, and helped write policies on anti-sexual harassment. Sims was also co-chair of the Campaign for Equal Families, which fought for the legal recognition of lesbian and gay partnerships/families in Ontario. Currently she is retired from politics but is writing her first book.  

Makeda Silvera

Born in Jamaica in 1955, Makeda Silvera is a Canadian novelist, activist, and out lesbian. Throughout her life, she has made important contributions to the lives of queer women of colour, as well to the world of literature. As a writer, she edited Piece of My Heart (1991), the first North American anthology of literature by lesbian women of colour. As an activist, she founded the 101 Dewson Street Collective in 1983, a hub for Black GSRD activist groups fighting against racism, homophobia, and heterosexism. Makeda Silvera’s countless other achievements continue to illustrate the inherent connection between literature and social activism, especially for lesbian women of colour. 

Karah Mathiason & Diane Grant 

According to a 2019 national survey by Trans PULSE Canada, 3 in 5 trans women experienced intimate partner violence since the age of 16. Often overlooked, trans women in Canada continue to experience yet another form of double oppression, facing violence, barriers, and social exclusion due to both sexism and cisnormativity.  

Wanting to promote trans women’s rights in some way, Toronto-based couple Karah Mathiason and Diane Grant – who both identify as trans lesbians – decided to organise a Trans March. On June 18th of 2009, over 100 people attended the Trans March through downtown Toronto, despite not being officially endorsed by Pride Toronto.  

The actions of Karah Mathiason and Diane Grant provided Canadian trans women (and men) an opportunity to assert themselves, to take up space in a world from which they are often excluded. The Toronto Trans March is now held every year and lends visibility to a growing number of trans people. This year’s Trans March on June 23rd alone brought thousands to Downtown Toronto to participate.  

Mary Simon

Mary Jeannie May Simon, born in 1947, is a Canadian civil servant and diplomat, best known for becoming the first Indigenous woman to hold the position of governor general of Canada in 2021. She was raised in a traditional Inuit lifestyle and brings her culture to her work. For instance, she has stated that the concept of ajuinnata, an Inuktitut word encompassing a vow to never give up and a commitment to action, is what inspired her to get involved as a civil servant to improve the lives of Inuit in Canada. Moreover, Simon was an instrumental actor in the establishment of the 1992 Charlottetown Accord. Among other things, the Accord gave constitutional recognition to Métis rights, and finally granted Aboriginals the right to self-govern 

There is no limit to the power of women, and to the things they can accomplish, once they put the wheels in motion. Despite the odds stacked heavily against them, so many women in Canada – assertive, agentic, and self-actualising – have succeeded at bettering society for all types of women, straight and queer, white and non-white alike. There is a lot of work still to be done for women’s rights; but the Emma Bakers, Mary-Woo Sims, and Mary Simons of the world bring us ever closer to gender equality.  

Happy Women’s Equality Day! 

Written by: Serena Celeste Romanelli

Aug22_Post
Volunteering

Volunteers are vital to the success of our organization, and we are grateful for the hundreds of hours our volunteers dedicate to the work of the Canadian Pride Historical Society. This volunteer spotlight is for Erica Ngaii, one of our Research Coordinators, based out of Toronto, ON. Read more below. 

Before volunteering at the CPHS, what was the most unusual or interesting volunteer job you’ve ever had?  
I had the most unforgettable volunteer experience as a humanitarian worker in Chihuahua, Mexico for one year. It is a life-changing experience that has played a pivotal role in shaping who I am today.  

How has the CPHS helped you in your professional development?  
The CPHS has enhanced my skills in effectively locating and utilizing grey literature to address research questions. Through the research tasks I have undertaken at the CPHS, I have gained valuable practical experience in identifying and accessing diverse non-traditional information sources, which is valuable for my research endeavors.  

What are 3 words to describe the CPHS?   
Diverse, curious, aspirational  

How do you balance your volunteer time at the CPHS with your other competing priorities?  
I prioritize my tasks in advance and dedicate regular time specifically to CPHS research. The CPHS team has been accommodating and understanding, allowing flexibility when needed. 

 

 

Thinking of volunteering? Check out our latest volunteer postings HERE.

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Awareness

August 19th is an important day in the world of human rights and humanitarian work. This year the day marks 20 years since 22 humanitarian aid workers were killed, and dozens more were injured, at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq from a militant bomb attack. In response to the attack, the UN General Assembly created World Humanitarian Day in 2008.

The Importance of World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian Day exists both to memorialize the lives lost, but also to celebrate their work for the advancement of human welfare and the work that many other humanitarians around the world continue to carry out today. Humanitarians focus on aleivitaing human suffering and supporting human dignity, whereas people who work on human rights do so through a more political and legal lens.  

Some of the most well-known humanitarians across time include Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr. Equally notable are people like Oumma Bermo, who works towards women and girls’ rights in Niger, and AKM Anisuzzaman, who for over 25 years has helped manage sexual and reproductive health programs in Bangladesh. The struggle to uphold human life and dignitiy is never-ending and needs people on all fronts to help it progress. 

World Humanitarian Day is also a campaign to bring more awareness to the tireless work of volunteers, professionals, and crisis-affected people around the world. Each year, a different theme around humanitarianism is selected by the United Nations Office to focus on. Last year the theme “It Takes a Village” highlighted the community aspect of global humanitarian efforts, noting the role that various other agents like data analysts and health workers play for aid to happen.  

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929-1968

Canada and GSRD Humanitariansim

There is a great deal of humanitarian work concerning gender, sexuality, and relationship diverse (GSRD) people as globally they are at significant risk of persecution, discrimination, and violence, regardless of their country’s laws. An additional problem, however, is created in countries that criminalize GSRD identities, resulting in those individuals seeking refuge in other countries, such as Canada.

Canadian organization Rainbow Railroad, founded in 2006

Canada has long provided support for GSRD people in need of humanitarian aid.  Canada follows the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, but in 1991 began granting refugee status based on sexual orientation. In 1993, Canada then added an extra ruling stating that sexual orientation counts as a “social group” that can seek refugee status, increasing the amount of asylum Canada has given for GSRD folks.

Even so, Canada’s support for GSRD refugees hasn’t always been up to par. It was only in 1977 that the Canadian Immigration Act was changed to allow gay men and women to seek refuge in Canada. And only in 2017 did the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada start to acknowledge the nuances of GSRD identities and evaluate refugee claims case-by-case. There is still a lot of ground for Canada to cover, but it continues to provide Resettlement and Government-Assisted Refugees Programs and works with   a significant force in accommodating GSRD refugees.

How to Help

If you want to help with the global humanitarian effort, making donations to nonprofits like Rainbow Railroad or Rainbow Refugee is an effective and time-saving method. There is also a full list of the 100 best charities in Canada on Charity Intelligence Canada, an organization that focuses on subjective transparency for charities, so you can direct your wallet to the most effective places and to the issues that you care about the most. Volunteering your time at a non-profit in your area is also a great way to help people out.

Another good way to help is to spread word of the importance of humanitarian issues to friends, family, and online. Greater awareness doesn’t always seem like the most impactful  method for helping these issues, but it has the potential to make a world of difference.

By: Madeleine Chan

Aug12
Awareness

Every year on August 12, International Youth Day celebrates a host of issues facing the world’s young people and the power that they have to create change. The day was made official in 1998 after being proposed at the first ever World Youth Forum of the United Nations System in 1991. The goal was to help promote the World Programme of Action for Youth and also later acknowledged the urgency for engaging “young peacebuilders in promoting peace and countering extremism, and clearly positions youth as important partners in the global efforts.”  

International Youth Day has also inspired a surge of youth around the world, especially in Canada, to take action in advancing and protecting the intersectional rights of people and the earth. Most notable is Greta Thunberg from Sweden, who fights for climate action, as well as Autumn Peltier from the Wiikwemkoong First Nation, who fights for clean drinking water for Indigenous communities.  

There is no shortage of young folk in Canada today that are fighting for the equity of all, particularly around GSRD rights. Here are five of those people and what they hope to achieve. 

Fae Johnstone

Fae Johnstone is a fierce advocate for GSRD issues across Canada. She’s a trans woman who started a consulting firm called Wisdom2Action that aids in facilitating rights-based work for various organizations. She also is a keynote speaker, consultant, facilitator, and host for events and issues around GSRD identity, and was even recently featured on a Hershey’s chocolate bar wrapper for her continued work. Her bold and noble commitment is to “champion trans and GSRD communities, open doors too often closed to our communities, and to push every organization, every institution and every government to address the social, political and economic inequities that shape GSRD, trans, gender diverse, and women’s lives.” 

Abhayjeet Singh Sachal

Abhayjeet Singh Sachal cares deeply about youth and helping them to fight for what they’re passionate about. His tumultuous experience in the Arctic with the Students on Ice Foundation opened his eyes to the issues facing the earth and its youth. He launched Break the Divide to connect students globally on a range of issues such as climate change, inequality, and food insecurity. He currently believes that “engagement in dialogue and conversation can serve to spark change around the world” and has also conducted research on the intersections of many of these pressing issues. Abhayjeet has also been a presenter at various international conferences to promote and educate on these issues 

Tina Yeonju Oh

Tina Yeonju Oh fights for climate justice on a global and intersectional level. She was a youth delegate at the UN’s COP 22 and 23 and named a part of Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25. She has written on climate change in relation to feminism and justice for marginalized peoples for the National Observer and The Argosy. Among all of these accomplishments, she continues to do work with labour organizing and works with the UN and their climate negotiations.  

Vishal Vijay

Vishal Vijay was determined after a trip to India to help bring about change for youth who didn’t have the same privileges as him. He started the organization EveryChildNow, which aims to fight for children’s rights by focusing on equality, basic needs, protection, and acceptance. The group has amazingly raised over $100,000 since 2012. Vishal hopes that in the future, by supporting children and youth, all forms of discrimination will be eradicated 

Brielle Beardy-Linklater

Brielle Beardy-Linklater broke ground in 2017 as the first transgender woman to sit in Parliament as one of the 338 Daughters of the Vote, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote. A strong advocate for Indigenous and gender rights, she’s worked on campaigns for political leaders and continues to advocate for her community both at home and nationally.  

By: Madeleine Chan

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Awareness

On August 9th, 1982, the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations (UNWGIP) held their first meeting in Geneva. To commemorate this crucial step forward in the protection of Indigenous rights, every year August 9th is recognised as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.  

To honour this day, it is important to acknowledge the parts of Canada’s history that inspired the creation of the UNWGIP and other such bodies.  

It is equally important, however, that August 9th not solely be a day to focus on Indigenous peoples’ sufferings. Indigenous peoples are not passive strawmen of victimisation whose role is to merely serve as a reminder of colonial brutality. Rather, they are the complex and dynamic agents of significant economic, political, social, and cultural influence. We would be remiss, especially on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, to exclude this aspect of Indigenous life.  

This article therefore has two aims: The first is to give a brief overview of the harrowing side of Indigenous life in Canada, as it remains a crucial element of our history. The second is to emphasise instances of Indigenous agency and to recognise the space that Indigenous peoples occupy in human culture. 

Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Canada – A Brief Critique

The rights of Indigenous peoples in North America have been repeatedly violated since the colonial era. This began with the Great Dying of 1492, when Christopher Columbus conquered the Americas. Genocide and disease killed nearly 55 million Indigenous people, erasing 90% of the population. Since then, a combination of wars, enslavement, declining birth rates, residential schools, and forced sterilisations have contributed to what many scholars call the Indigenous Holocaust.  

Today, Amnesty International reports Canada’s repeated failures in respecting the rights of its Indigenous peoples and their lands, despite having made a commitment to uphold the principles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). For example, Indigenous peoples in Canada still face discrimination and lack access to education and healthcare. Long-term drinking water advisories remain in effect for 29 Indigenous communities. And the Canadian federal government continues to support the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project on Indigenous land, despite the denial of consent by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.  

Indigenous Agency in Canada and the World

Small Numbers, Big Statistics. Although they make up only 5% of the world’s population, Indigenous peoples protect 80% of its biodiversity and speak more than half of the 7,000 languages around the world. 

Linguistic Influence. Canada got its name from a Huron-Iroquois word. In 1535, Jacques Cartier crossed paths with two Indigenous youths, who told him of the route to their village, or their kanata. Adapted from its original form, “Canada” went on to become the official name of the nation on July 1, 1867. 

Early Societies with Advanced Knowledge. Contrary to what is frequently taught in Canadian school curricula, Indigenous peoples in North America had knowledge of science, health, math, and land systems well before the arrival of European immigrants. This knowledge was not “introduced” to them; it had been used successfully to maintain their livelihood for thousands of years prior.  

Brave Soldiers of the Land. Approximately 7,000 people of Indigenous status volunteered to fight in the Canadian military during both World Wars, many receiving medals for their heroism and bravery. The reason cited for joining by many of these volunteers was to protect the land.  

Progressive Politics. The concept of a central government with a separation of powers – like the government we presently have in Canada – was highly influenced by the early political institutions of the Iroquois and Algonquin Nations.  

Forward-Thinking Views on Identity. Indigenous communities have recognised the fluidity and spectrum of gender for hundreds of years. Although many Indigenous communities have their own terms for this phenomenon, the modern term “two-spirit” is frequently used by Indigenous people to describe individuals who identify as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit. Two-spirit may describe a gender, sexual, and/or spiritual identity.  

Historically, such individuals could be men who dressed like women, or vice-versa. They could also be men who performed what are now considered feminine roles like basket-weaving, or women who performed what are now considered masculine roles like hunting. Sometimes, two-spirit was used strictly to describe sexuality. However, those who identified as two-spirit did not necessarily see themselves as either homosexual or heterosexual – this was mainly a European concept introduced through colonisation.  

Although this account of Indigenous agency is short, it is by no means exhaustive. We hope that this article can serve as inspiration to learn more about the fascinating nuances of Indigenous identity, agency, and strength. 

Happy International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples! 

By: Serena Celeste Romanelli

july26
Awareness

July 26th is widely celebrated as Polyromantic and Polysexual Visibility Day! In recognition of this day, let’s take a look at what these terms mean and why they are important.  

The categories of sexuality

To better understand polyromanticism and polysexuality – broadly referred to as polysexuality – it helps to first cover the two “categories” of sexuality. The first category of sexuality is monosexuality, which is defined as the state of being sexually and/or romantically attracted to only one gender. This includes homosexual and heterosexual individuals. The second category is commonly referred to as either multisexuality or plurisexuality, both of which are defined as the state of being sexually and/or romantically attracted to more than one gender.  

Polyromanticism and polysexuality fall under the second category. These terms describe, respectively, individuals who are romantically and sexually attracted to people of multiple – but not necessarily all – genders. Polysexuality denotes a spectrum of attraction possibilities. In other words, polysexual folks may have one or multiple gender preferences in their attraction, or even none at all.  

Differentiating polysexuality from other multisexual identities

There is sometimes confusion between polysexuality and other terms that fall under multisexuality. Below are some common examples and their respective definitions.  

Polysexuality: Attraction to multiple, but not all, genders. Polysexual individuals may or may not have a gender preference. 

Omnisexuality: Attraction to all genders, where gender is a factor in individuals’ preferences. That is, an individual’s attraction may feel different from gender to gender.  

Pansexuality: Attraction to all genders, but gender is not a factor in individuals’ preferences. Pansexual individuals are sometimes described as “gender-blind.”  

What about polyamory?

Perhaps the most common misconception about polysexuality is that it is similar – or even the same – as polyamory. Despite their shared prefix, these terms bear no inherent relation to each other. Whilst polyromanticism and polysexuality describe romantic and sexual identities, polyamory is a type of relationship dynamic characterised by ethical non-monogamy. Like individuals of any romantic or sexual identity, polysexual folks may engage in relationships ranging from monogamous to non-monogamous, depending entirely on their personal preferences.  

Why it’s important to know the difference

As we navigate our growing understanding of the many flavours of human romanticism and sexuality, it is important to recognise how important labels can be for many individuals’ identities. Distinguishing polysexuality from omnisexuality, pansexuality, and other multisexual identities allows us to appreciate the nuances between them. It also allows individuals who identify with these identities to feel validated and seen. The opposite – feeling that one’s identity has been erased or repressed – has been associated with various negative psychosocial outcomes. 

Multisexual folks (including those who identify as polysexual) are especially at risk of negative outcomes due to their unique experience with bi-erasure. These individuals often must grapple with their sexuality being dismissed or ignored entirely in human culture and history. This is especially significant in important scientific studies on sexuality, which commonly aggregate multisexual populations with monosexual Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diverse (GSRD) populations, thereby erasing important psychosocial differences.  

In addition to bi-erasure, multisexual folks are frequently the recipients of a multisexual-specific prejudice called binegativity. This includes negative attitudes and beliefs held about multisexual individuals (e.g., multisexual people are confused or “in a phase,” are promiscuous, are more likely to cheat or have a sexually transmitted infection, etc.). 

As a result of bi-erasure and binegativity, multisexual folks have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidality than monosexual GSRD individuals. They are also significantly less likely to give their own mental and physical health positive ratings. For comparison, the 2015-2016 Canadian Community Health Survey found that, when asked to rate the state of their mental health, 72% of heterosexual individuals and 68% of homosexual individuals gave a rating of “good” or “excellent,” whilst only 44% of bisexual individuals gave these ratings.  

Wrapping it all up

Human sexuality is vast and complex, with nuances that are deeply valuable to many individuals’ experiences. A major step to bridging the gap between monosexual and multisexual folks’ psychosocial outcomes is lending visibility to these nuances and showing that they matter. On July 26, we recognise – and celebrate! – all those who identify with polyromanticism and polysexuality  

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Education ProjectResearch Project
Mark your calendars! We will be launching the latest instalment of our research and education materials during Calgary Pride!

 WHAT: 
Announcement and release of our Research and Education Materials for Alberta followed by Story Time with local guests Shane Onyou and King Neptune

WHEN:
September 1st, 2023 @ 6pm

WHERE: 
Join us virtually on Facebook Live or in-person at Owl’s Nest Books in Calgary, Alberta

 This is a FAMILY-FRIENDLY event. Please RSVP if you plan to attend!

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