Yellowknife's 'Captain Gay' salutes goodbye to LGBTQ youth after 6 years of service

Yellowknife's 'Captain Gay' salutes goodbye to LGBTQ youth after 6 years of service

When LGBTQ youth started calling them "Captain Gay," Yellowknife's Jacq Brasseur — who prefers to go by the pronoun they — said it was one of their most memorable moments while working with the youth.

"I thought [that] was awesome," said Brasseur, laughing. "For a while, I was so stoked on that kids were calling me Captain Gay."

This was among several memories Brasseur shared as they prepare to leave Yellowknife for Regina this coming Friday.

Brasseur, co-founder of the Rainbow Coalition and the Rainbow Youth Centre, is moving on to work at the University of Regina's Pride centre — but not without leaving a mark on the North's LGBTQ community.

"I'm reflecting on… the specialness of that, of being able to work on something for so long and it be your baby, your passion and your entire life. And then for other people to see how special it is and want to continue it on."

Rainbows in Yellowknife

Brasseur, born and raised in Yellowknife, came out when they were 11 years old.

"So I don't really remember a time when I wasn't open about who I was," they said.

"The amount of love validation and support I got from Yellowknifers that I was close to [and] wasn't close to... helped me survive, really."  

So creating the Rainbow Coalition — an organization for LGBTQ youth in the North — in 2011, along with co-founder Nicole Garbutt was a way to "give back" and address the "big gap in knowledge" in the North, said Brasseur.

For the first five years, Brasseur said the organization was "like this floating thing, that existed mostly online."

Last April, a physical youth centre opened, giving a space to LGBTQ youth to claim as their own.

"I got to spend time with a lot of super cool kids. Like a lot of really great radical, creative, innovative young people," said Brasseur. "[They] inspire me to move on."

Quality, not quantity

Brasseur said their goal was to care about quality, not quantity.

"I remember me and Nicole saying to each other one day, if we save one kid's life, that's it. It's worth it," said Brasseur. "I think we've done that."  

There's another moment that Brasseur will treasure.

It was after a movie night at the centre last winter.

"As I was leaving the centre one day… this group of 15, 16 year olds look at me and they're like, 'Jacq, have you eaten today?' And I was like 'no.' They're like 'OK, you need to go home, you need to get something to eat, and you need to go to sleep,'" said Brasseur.

"In a lot of ways, those kids take care of me," they said, choking up with emotions.

"And I'm just really gonna miss that."