The country's first support group for survivors of conversion therapy will be hosting an awards ceremony and night of entertainment in Kingston at the end of the month.
C.T Survivors Connect, created by Belleville resident Ben Rodgers in July 2021, has since officially become the first and only federally incorporated not-for-profit organization created to support survivors of conversion therapy traumas in Canada.
Rodgers has watched the support group grow over the better part of the last year, being utilized by survivors spread across Canada.
He says now they've even been able to begin in person sessions in areas where the need is great enough and a location has been made available.
"It's really exciting," said Rodgers.
"I wanted people to see there is a community and they can reach out and feel safe. To see that being able to happen in person and to see that there are enough people in different areas that are finally reaching out, that's really empowering and it pulls at the heart strings."
C.T Survivors Connect is currently running the in person group sessions in Kitchener, after years of there being an utter lack of dedicated services for survivors of conversion therapy practices.
Rodgers says right now he's working on securing locations for group meetings in Belleville and Ottawa, and that he could envision doing so in Kingston or anywhere else where there are enough community members using the services.
After watching the support group grow and laws be put into place in Canada to curtail conversion therapy, the community wants to celebrate what has been a past year filled with wins.
Rodgers, who says he himself has stepped away from the political side of advocacy, wanted the people who have been fighting so hard to have an opportunity to be recognized.
"I wanted to honour people that have fought against conversion therapy practices and have actually made a difference," Rodgers said.
"Survivors, advocates, people who have -you know- taken that leadership and really step up... Now we actually get to do something cool for them. This has never happened before because, well, we've really never been heard before."
With the help of a $10,000 grant, CT Survivors Connect will be hosting a drag/comedy night on May 27 at the Renaissance with local comedians and drag performers.
Three awards along with unknown prizes will also be handed out at the event, chosen by a judging panel who has spent much of the last week sifting through nominations put forward for advocates who have been fighting for the LGBTQ2S+ community and against the cruelly antiquated practice of conversion therapy.
Advanced tickets are still available for $20 each, with tickets at the door costing $25.
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News