Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer + (2SLGBTQ+) Community and Life During a Global Pandemic: A Resistance Based Photovoice Collective

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Wildman, Christine

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University of Guelph

Abstract

Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, plus (2SLGBTQ+) people live in a cis-heteronormative society and face systematic and systemic exclusion (Manning 2015; Spade 2015) that limit access to community and sense of belonging (Castree, Kitchin and Rogers 2013). Most research related to Canadian 2SLGBTQ+ populations has focused on large urban centres where visible 2SLGBTQ+ communities have been built (Warner 2002), but there is a growing body of literature examining 2SLGBTQ+ populations in small to medium population centres, to which this research adds. This critical community-engaged research (Da Cruz 2017) investigated how 2SLGBTQ+ community within Brantford and the County of Brant conceptualized community as well as life during a global pandemic. Informed by critical sociological (Bourdieu 1986) feminist (Crenshaw 1991; Glenn 2022) and decolonial (Driskill et al. 2011) theories, heterosexuality and gender are examined as colonial social structures that are normalized and naturalized through social actors, policy, and institutional systems (Butler 2004; Mohanty 2003; Spade 2015). Aligned with participatory methodologies, photovoice was employed as a research method (Wang 1999) engaging 14 2SLGBTQ+ people aged 16-60 as participant researchers who took photos representing aspects of 2SLGBTQ+ community and life during the COVID-19 pandemic and attended online Community Cafés to discuss photos and analyze themes. Findings indicate that while 2SLGBTQ+ populations are constrained by cis-heteronormative social structures, participant researchers in this study utilized their agency to challenge social rules and what has been deemed “normal” (Bourdieu 1986, Sewell 1992, Spade 2015). Participant researchers were resilient in creating visibility and community for 2SLGBTQ+ populations to create caring communities for themselves. For all participant researchers, community was about creating caring, understanding, accepting, inclusive, and loving environments where they could be around like-minded people and safely be their authentic selves. This research is also significant in that the findings challenge ideas that 2SLGBTQ+ community and movements are entrenched in the capitalist market (Sears 2005). Instead, these findings demonstrate that in smaller geographic areas community also manifests in non-commodified and unique ways through creating visibility that challenges dominant cis-heteronormative social structures and systems.

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2SLGBTQ+ Community, Queer Community, 2SLGBTQ+ and COVID-19, 2SLGBTQ+ Photovoice, 2SLGBTQ+ Critical Community-engaged

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