Four national 2SLGBTQI+ organizations have teamed to decry hateful messages against a group in North Bay, Ont., that was planning a drag show for youth.
Enchanté Network, JusticeTrans, Égale Canada, and the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) issued a joint news release Thursday in support of OutLoud North Bay.
Last week, OutLoud North Bay posted about the event online, which was set to be held today (July 15). After an American social media account directed its followers to harass the community group, OutLoud North Bay and its founder received thousands of death threats, harassing emails and hateful comments. Police are investigating.
On its Facebook page, OutLoud North Bay said the drag show for youth was postponed for safety reasons.
"We...are dismayed at the rising tide of hate being directed at 2SLGBTQ+ spaces, particularly those reserved for youth," Jaime Sadgrove, manager of communications and advocacy at CCGSD, said in the release.
"Having a safe and supportive space to be creative is essential for all young people, especially for those who are vulnerable."
JusticeTrans said: "Now more than ever, we need everyone to stand loud and strong against this hatred."
Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, said, "Unfortunately, these types of incidents happen all too often. Many never get reported."
"We need to recognize these incidents for what they are; they are hate motivated and they're harmful," she said.
Tyler Boyce, executive director of The Enchanté Network, said such "tactics will not work; we will never be silenced. Our movement is too strong, our communities too resourceful, and our brilliance undeniable."
"Enchanté and Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ communities stand strong with OutLoud North Bay."
Showing love and support
Jyssika Russell is manager of public affairs and communications with The Enchanté Network, which connects and supports 200 pride centres and service providers across Canada.
"We really wanted to reach out and show love and care and support in whatever ways that we can," Russell told CBC, "because we know how isolating those kinds of hate attacks can be; and we wanted to make sure [OutLoud North Bay] knew that they weren't alone."
All members of the network have been made aware of the harassment toward OutLoud North Bay. Russell said they've asked them to reach out.
"I'm hoping to see a swell of love and support coming from Vancouver, coming from our members in Fogo Island off Newfoundland, coming from the North," she said.
I want to see messages of support coming across the country for these folks because we are all in it together. - Jyssika Russell, Enchante Network
"I want to see messages of support coming across the country for these folks because we are all in it together."
Russell said she has never seen harassment and co-ordination of attacks to this scale, all directed at an 2SLGBTQI+ group.
"Where you're receiving thousands of messages, when you're receiving thousands of attacks on your social media to where you have to shut those things down. That is something that in my experience, I haven't seen yet before."
Having all four national 2SLGBTQI+ organizations come together to help OutLoud North Bay is a significant move.
"We're working together and we're working together with you across all levels," Russell said.
"We also know how difficult it can be for a smaller organization to be facing that, when really an attack on one of us, no matter how small, is an attack on all of us."