When Daughters Have to Be Strong for Their Mothers.

*Disclaimer* This piece is not in relation to shouldering of responsibility by children nor toxic or abusive relationships between daughters and their mothers. 

I knew I had to write about this the second the idea popped into my head, and yet still it feels like a betrayal to write about it. I can start off by saying I love my mother. She is my whole world, and I legitimately don’t know how I would survive without her. I can’t even imagine a life without her in it. She’s funny, and kind and is the type of mom that will love you to the point of embarrassment. She can cook like nobody’s business and at times will ride for her children until the wheels fall off. And yet, over the last 3 or so years a part of me has come to resent her. It bubbles up in my chest and chokes me. It ties my hands behind my back and cages my empathy. And the more I think about it the angrier I get, and not at myself for feeling this way but at her. At her for being anything other than what my mind has built her up to be. A super mom.

As small children our parents seem larger than life to us. Superheroes that can do anything, with superhuman strength, speed and eyes in the back of their heads. They provide for us, hold us when we’re scared and fight off the villains, real and fake. Our mothers though, take on a role that our fathers can only aspire to be. They’re the backbone of the family, they’re the glue that keeps us together and the constant in our lives. We all lean on her, she’s the rock through a storm and the unwavering champion on our darkest days. And despite these being the thoughts and convictions of a child, the reality is, we never grow out of this. Society won’t allow us. Whether you have a mother in your life or not, society tells us over and over again, that a woman isn’t a good mother unless she perpetuates and lives up to all of the above mentioned characteristics. We’re shocked as a society and community when we hear about mother’s who have “failed” their children. Those not “strong” enough to be just that, strong. Those who choose to leave, who have addictions, who have traumas that they can’t hide. Men on the other hand, can stop being fathers at any moment, and we’ll shrug it off, chalk it up to men being men and move on. We expect the mother to stay when this happens. To be resolute in the face of abandonment, to pick up and continue on with life. A mother must be able to do it all. Raise children on their own, provide a roof over their head, work a full time job, keep the house clean and all while never taking a break. And let the father be in the child’s life, we’ll then there really is no excuse is there?

So what happens when the facade falls away? When a woman, is simply that, a woman. When the cracks begin to show? Is it really like a superhero movie. Superman takes off his suit, puts on some glasses and we realise its Clark Kent this whole time? Batman takes off his mask to reveal Bruce Wayne standing beneath it. The illusion breaking. We realise they’re people just like the rest of us. If only mothers were afforded that opportunity. But the reality is they are not. Being a mother is a 24/7 job they say. So what happens to the woman behind the title? Does she just cease to exist? And what if the weight of the world becomes too much to bare? Do we just stand by and watch as she becomes crushed beneath it? Sometimes I wonder if the story of Atlas was really about the story of a mother. Forced to hold the world on her shoulders for all of eternity without ever being able to take a break. Even if a woman is a “deadbeat mother,” She is still not able to move away from that ideology of motherhood. I don’t know how many times ive heard the comment “how can a mother give birth to a child and not want them?” I’ve often asked myself the same question, a question that’s rarely asked of men. And it’s because we expect men to be weak when it comes to any kind of human connection. Boys will be boys and men will be men. They need time to grow and change into the man we need them to be. And when they can’t, or when it takes longer than it should, well…. A woman will be there to hold things down until he can. 

It’s that similar way of thinking that then gets applied to daughters. And what are future daughters? Future mothers. This idea of a never ending supply of strength and endurance is applied to little girls and grown women alike. We oftentimes shoulder some of that weight. We help to raise younger siblings, we cook, we clean and sometimes we pay the bills. We’re the first ones to get kicked out and the last ones to receive understanding, empathy and second chances. Unlike our brothers who are given time to grow, learn and change. It is a never ending cycle of pain and endurance, passed down from mother to daughter through generations, across class and race lines. And at some point our mothers move the world off of one of their shoulders to make room for us to slide under and take the remaining weight onto one of ours. I hear it time and time again, from generations of women. This underlying resentment that they have towards their mothers for having to shoulder the world alongside them. And the resentment is even more present when they are forced to take the entire weight of the world themselves. 

I really started to think about this when I was watching Love & Hiphop LA the other night. One of the members of the cast had asked the question “why do I have to be strong for my mother? Isn’t it her responsibility to be strong for me?” I can tell you I don’t know how many times I had and have thought this myself. Since when did I become the shoulder to lean on? The arms to cry in with the strength to endure? 

My mom was always the strongest person to me. I aspired to be like her. If only I could become half the woman she was. I took pride in the fact that she had the strength to walk away from my father when she caught him cheating. That while 6 months pregnant, with a 4 year old and new house she packed his bags and ended a marriage to a man who did not and would not love her the way she deserved. I watched for years after that as she stayed the pillar in my life, always fighting and choosing her children when their father would not. Not backing down from her convictions and closing the door on any man who could not or would not meet her right where she wanted to be met at. Even now as I write this I get chills from knowing that my mother was this woman. The sense of pride that swells my heart. But then that resentment builds up. Knowing that as of late that is no longer the mother that is presented before me. Instead I am met with a woman who weeps over the loss of a man, who bends to his will, who is seeking out love, who breaks down when she is stressed and who seems so much smaller to me now. She’s no longer the giant she once was and instead is the fragile woman who looks as though she needs to be scooped up and held. And im angry at her for it. I resent her for becoming this person. It’s like a bitter taste in my mouth. The empathy I once had for her has disappeared and I can’t bear to hear her cry. And not because my heart aches at the thought and sound of it but because I can’t stand the weakness in it.

I disgust myself just writing that. Admitting that this is how I feel about the woman who birthed me, who has fought for me, who has loved me deeply, it makes me sick to my stomach that this is how I repay her. So I wanted to understand why I felt this way. What turned me into this person? The type of person who feels this way about their mother. And the more I thought about it the more I realized that what I was really mad about was that my mother was being a human being. Here this woman was, morning the loss of a love, who was learning how to compromise, a woman who was looking for what we all look for, intimacy, companionship and support, a woman who had shouldered the weight of the world for an eternity and had finally felt the weight in her bones, so much so that she has now is crying out in pain. The illusion wasn’t that she isn’t a real mother but that she isn’t only a mother. She is a person with feelings, who has struggled much more than she ever should of had to. She’s still the same woman who left a cheating husband with a toddler while pregnant, I just wasn’t privy to the tears. She didn’t weep in front of me because as a 4 year old watch my world explode, she couldn’t show how devastated she was. When she stood her ground with men, she couldn’t explain to a 9 or 11 year old that she wouldn’t budge because her heart couldn’t take the pain of another heartbreak. When she was worried about what bills to pay and how to feed her children, she couldn’t confide in a 14 year old. And when she needed to sob, when she needed a shoulder to cry on, how could she turn to the daughter who was running into her arms to do the same?

As children we don’t know who are parents are. We know nothing past the fact that they are our parents. And even as we grow older, begin to have a deeper understanding of the way the world works, we still look to them to be the parents they were when we were scared of the dark and believed in Santa Clause. In the movie “Otherhood” this was made extremely evident when Angela Bassett’s character asks her son to name 10 things he knows about her as a woman. He couldn’t name one. And even after, when the heart warming ending to the movie comes, when he is “finally” able to list 10 things. They are ALL in relation to her being his mother and his father’s wife. The whole premise of the movie itself is that these 3 older women can not function without being mothers. As if they have no identity outside of it. No hopes and dreams or even hobbies or passions.

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It continues the same narrative of women not existing outside of motherhood once they become a mother. When did we as a society decide that women cease to exist the second we add a title to them? When did we decide that even when their children are grown, when the facade of childhood whims and beliefs start to wash away that mother’s can’t also evolve. Can’t they break the illusion to? Can they take off the mask, get out of the suit and be the woman behind the title? Or is that only for men in comic books?

I asked myself, what are we to do when daughters have to be strong for our mothers? We do it. We do it without resentment, we do it with compassion and we do it with empathy. We all share memes that say “check on your strong friend,” and you have to ask yourself, is that just for online? Do you only apply it to the friendships you’ve made, or does your mother get to be checked up on to? I know my mom sure as hell does, and im sorry that I ever doubted that she did.

THE FINAL CUT: see who’s new on QBL (July 2019)

Queer before liquor (QBL) is our playlist featuring all LGBT+ musicians, producers, and DJs – updated on the first Friday of each month by our music content creator!

Read on to learn more about the artists featured in the most recent update.

CLEAR MORTIFEE embodies fluidity in both their gender expression and genre-bending musical style. Despite this Toronto local’s tendency to experiment with sounds, their expressive, raw, reflective lyricism remains ubiquitous in their work.

QUARTERBACK has a voice as clear as crystal, and a persona that shines the same. Relatable lyrics coupled with a sultry, sexy delivery makes for an irresistible combination. Catch him at a live show until he drops a full project.

CAVEBOY is a Montreal-based, all-womxn trio whose music feels something like a time capsule. Their latest single ‘I Wonder’ exemplifies a retro alternative-pop vibe, and could easily be crowned the Song of the Summer. Rumor has it that their live performances are something to remember – keep an eye on their website for info regarding upcoming tour dates.

MNEK is a Grammy-award winning artist with songwriting/producer credits on tracks by Beyoncé, Stormzy, Madonna, and dozens more iconic artists. His accolades mean more than just trophies on a shelf to him; MNEK strives to be the pop star to whom young, gay, black boys can look up to that he did not have growing up.

IVY SOLE calls her fan the ‘garden gang’ – which makes sense because her music has a common theme of growth. She explores the journey of love and self-realization on her latest album. If you vibe with it, purchase this commemorative anthology of poems, photos, artwork, and more; 50% of proceeds will go to TWOCC, National Bailout for Black Mamas & Native Women Lead.

TIFFANY GOUCHÉ is a triple-threat singer, songwriter, and producer who has rubbed elbows with Jill Scott, Lil Simz, .Anderson Paak, and many other notable names in music. She has teased her fans with the drop of timeless singles as they await the follow-up to her critically acclaimed, last body of work.

SIYA is not only a rapper and actress, but an advocate for those who suffer from Clinical Anxiety. The development of her latest project actually acted as a form of therapy through her personal struggle with anxiety.

LIL NAS X has taken the world by storm since the viral spread of his country chart topping single ‘Old Town Road’. On the last day of Pride Month, Lil Nas X tweeted a rainbow emoji and urged his fans to listen closely to the lyrics of a track titled ‘C7osure (You Like)’ from his newly released EP. Stream his coming out track now on QBL.

ÄNGIE is a self-proclaimed weirdo narcissist, and she definitely brings that energy to her tunes, which span several genres. Beyond her musical talents, she co-directs the majority of her music videos – boasting over 17 million views on Youtube, collectively.

SOFIA FLY is a transgender rapper, producer, and DJ hailing from Toronto. Her debut EP made an impressive entrance onto the scene. Filled with empowering anthems driven by latin rhythms and bilingual lyrics, it is sure to make you dance.

Not Beyoncé’s Version of Crazy In Love…

I recently was having a conversation with a friend about what it meant to date people with mental health issues. She disclosed to me that she wasn’t comfortable with dating someone who was dealing with mental health issues and mood swings. Now before you get upset and decide to jump down her throat she had very valid reasons as to why she didn’t have the capacity to date someone who had mental health issues. In her case it was a very real and valid possibility that emotional abuse could take place while someone was having an episode. And if I’m being honest, as someone who deals with mental health issues I really wish more people would be honest about their capacity when it comes to dating us. Now I’m sure you have watched the Silver Linings Playbook movie about how two people dealing with severe mental health issues somehow find a way to overcome it all and fall in love. Jennifer Lawrence is beautiful and wild and her mental illness is portrayed as something that is simply just a character flaw or an issue that the rest of the world has with her instead of something that she is dealing with internally. Bradley Cooper is just a man who has been cheated on by his wife and is now dealing with the mental break of what has transpired. Their mental illness is quirky, thought provoking and it causes its watchers to feel sympathy for these two people who are simply just trying to overcome all of the trauma that they’ve incurred and somehow come on top with love in tow.

I wish it was that easy. I wish I could tell you that my body dysmorphia, anxiety and depression are just cute little characteristics that I’ve acquired over the years that make me ever more so lovable. To be honest I wish my life was like Silver Linings Playbook. I wish someone was just waiting to look past my crippling anxiety around my rolls and my abandonment issues to see the deep and thoughtful  sexy young woman that I am. Unfortunately that’s not the case and it probably never will be. Instead of sleeping with every man in my office or creating a sexy burlesque choreography, my body dysmorphia and depression looks more like days without getting out of bed, staring at images of all the women that I can probably never be and convincing myself that I’m neither lovable or wanted no matter how many times people tell me otherwise.  For many of us dealing with mental health issues, relationships look more like navigating ways to quash insecurities while simultaneously trying to show up in healthy ways for our partners. And even when we have found ways to cope, put ourselves on medication, write think pieces, join help groups and go to therapy it still isn’t easy. Living and surviving with mental illness can sometimes feel like we are undeserving of love and this feeling is heightened even more so by people who are not honest about their capacity to love us through it all. 

Well-meaning people often times will approach us with the full intent to love us, support us and even build futures with us. They fill our heads with promises of loving us on the tough days and sticking around even when we can barely stick around for ourselves.  The problem with this is that these promises, commitments and assurances are usually made on days when we are quote on quote “normal.” It’s easy to love us, it’s easy to show up and it’s easy to be there when our depression is quiet, our anxiety is hidden and our body dysmorphia has decided to play hide and seek. What isn’t easy is sticking around for the days where tears make more sense than words and we need a little bit of extra convincing that we’re worth sticking around for. Loving us isn’t easy and trust me if it was we’d be doing a lot better of a job at it ourselves.  I’ve lost count over the years of how many partners have held me and reassured me that they’d stick it through, that no matter how scary or tough it gets that they’ll be there to hold my hand along the way. The problem is when you’re not honest about your own capacity and inevitably end up breaking promises to people like me, it does more harm than good. You instead become just another person making yet another promise that you are not able to keep and no matter how much you intended to, it doesn’t change the outcome.

There is also this misconception that if those of us with mental health issues just get enough therapy then we will be healthy enough partners, for what the rest of society sees as, normal people.  The problem with that, is that my depression has been and will probably be a life-long issue and will unfortunately probably be the third wheel in our relationship that we never asked for. Whether I date you today, tomorrow or ten years from now, you may come back and still find the same girl who’s loving her body and sometimes just not liking it. She’ll still need extra reassurances of love and your willingness to stay because her abandonment issues left lasting marks on her heart. And you may still need to work just a little extra harder to love her. Dating people with mental illness does not mean subjecting yourself to harm or abuse. It doesn’t mean ignoring red flags or sticking it out because you feel sorry for the person. It’s stopping and taking a second to ask yourself “do I love this person? Do I have the capacity to continue to love this person? And do I have  the capacity to stay even when it gets hard? Because it will.” What I can promise is that even though it won’t be easy, the person that you’re choosing to love with mental health issues is trying twice as hard and doing twice the work to make loving them just as easy as it was for Bradley Cooper to fall in love with Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook

So what are some of the steps that you can take when choosing to date someone dealing with mental health issues. The first step is asking your partner what kind of support they need, particularly when they’re in a dark place or having an episode. These supports can look like anything from just running a bath, other times it’s holding them until they feel safe or maybe it looks like just listening to them rant while they try to work through their insecurities and feelings. It may also look like you helping them create a self care kit. Maybe it’s filled with bubbles, love letters you’ve written for them or even a list of other supports that they can call on when your capacity is low. The Next Step is having a conversation with them about where your capacity lies during these times of need and if you are able to openly and honestly support them in the ways that they need you to. It’s important to know what their love language is so that you can  be there for them in all of the ways that they need without adding additional pressure to an already difficult moment or situation. Something that is also equally as important is creating a self care plan for yourself for either before or after your partner has gone through a mental health episode. Relationships are never one-sided and they are especially not one-sided when it comes to dating people with mental health issues. You are not your partner’s therapist, psychiatrist or mental health doctor. You are their friend, their lover and their support person in a healthy and equal capacity. This means ensuring that your mental health well-being is also taken into consideration when loving someone that has mental health issues.

Loving us is not like loving everyone else and if we’re being honest you never loved someone the same way twice. Capacity and boundaries should always be an important part of every single relationship you enter into, this is particularly true when it comes to dating someone like me. Be honest, be open, be supportive and you and your partner should be able to navigate anything that comes your way, even depression.

What does Pride mean to you?

What does Pride mean to you? What do you get most excited about during this month? Is it the parade? The comradery and connections? It can be whatever you need it to be. As it has taken many years and battles for us to be able to be who we are today, we must remember that every journey is different. 

This year we are quite publicly celebrating 50 years since what is known as the Biggest step towards Queer Liberation; the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969. There were many important moments before and after this date that have led to the freedoms we have today, being able to celebrate Pride in 2019. 

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I was lucky to partake in planning Toronto Pride last year, as well as an international parade while travelling. The freedom to travel as a queer person without fear is a blessing I get to experience, as a “less visible” queer woman. Every year since the history of the Riots, our ability to live as we are becomes easier. With every movement, activist, and Pride parade, our community will be more accepted.  

Let us remember the strong people who came before and after Marsha P Johnson. Who created the thoughts and opportunities who made it possible.  

Continue reading “What does Pride mean to you?”

Taking Up Space For Queer Artists Of Colour

Come As You Are: An Art Show

Curated By: Tiana Smith

Tiana Smith is a Fashion Arts Student at Humber college who truly is art AF. This is the second year that she presents her “Come as You Are Art show for pride!”

Photo By @Photosbyzain

Hi Tiana, thank you so much for being here and for everything you do! I want readers to get to know you some more. This art that you do, where does it come from? What is your artistic background?

I am a Fashion Arts student at Humber College. I am also a freelance multimedia artist with a background in photography, film making, creative directing, and styling.

That explains a lot. I’ve been following you on social media for a while now and you’re either modelling or creating! I love seeing your art! You’ve got something huge coming up right? How did you come to creating ‘Come As You Are’?

Cathleen Calica, the director of 187 Augusta is the amazing individual who encouraged me to provide a space initially for my work last year, and the series that I originally directed ‘Queer & Existing’. I felt seen and it allowed me to feel proud of the space that I was taking up for black queer people. 

Behind the scenes photos by Tiana Smith
View the full series at digitalteee.com

Amazing Tiana! As a queer black woman myself I think this is so important and I’m so thankful for people like yourself who create these opportunities for our community. So what is your reason for this? Why do you organize, plan, and prioritize an art show for queer people of color?

I continue to organize and provide a space that prioritizes QTBIPOC because we need to be seen and we need to be celebrated. I personally have not felt seen during the overwhelming celebration of Pride Toronto. There are so many intersections of sexuality and gender expression when it comes to someone’s identity, especially when culture plays a big role in how we identify. 

Beautiful, I agree with you; these spaces are so important! I think you’ll have a huge turn out! Tiana, beyond the obvious amazing reasons you spoke about already why should queer folks and allies in the community attend ‘Come As You Are?’

This show provides a breath of fresh air for folks who don’t understand or know how to provide language to their identity. I want people to see that through them living their life as who they are; amongst the obstacles and hardships is how they can provide language to their stories. There is no one-way to be queer, like there’s no one-way to be anything. Throughout the night I open the floor to include the audience to speak on their truth by asking, “What does it mean to you, to be your most authentic self?” I ask this question to remind the individuals who are attending the event to understand that they are loved, and that they are seen. As much as the art show and space is for the artists, it is also for our community as a whole. This space provides a chance for allies, queer folks, and especially queer folks of colour to realize that we should be here for each other and respect each other as we are.

Photo By @Photosbyzain

So I’ve got to ask you then, what does it mean to you to be your most authentic self?

As a black, queer, femme, woman, being my most authentic self means loving all of who I am and being damn proud of it. Living authentically as me is reminding black girls and women that we live for ourselves and not within the gaze of men and the media to sexualize our bodies.

Wow, so proud of you and what you do! Well, I want to thank you again Tiana for chatting with me and readers please support this event! Details below!

187 Augusta Avenue
$10 at the door
Doors open at 6:00 PM
Thursday, June 20th 2019

See event page for more details.


Everybody hates fat women…. Or do they?

We constantly talk about what it’s like to date interracially. How to navigate the complexities of dating someone from a different religion. Or how to explain to our friends why we’re in a relationship with someone long distance. But what does it mean when we date some who is a different size than us? I’m not talking about in the cute way where you and your best friend have matching outfits but one is a size small and one is a size large. I’m talking about what it means to be a person who identifies as fat dating someone who is very clearly thin.

I ask this, because as a fat femme I recently found myself in this exact predicament. Throughout my life i’ve always dated people my own size. When I was thin, I dated other thin people and when I began to gain weight I found myself gravitating to dating people my own size as well. Whether it was when I was dating men, and when I finally gave that up, (honestly thank creator for that) the women I’ve dated have all been relatively close to my size. My last relationship was with a woman who had lost 300 pounds but was still a fat femme, so the conversations around weight were usually had between the two of us or between her and her friends and always concerning her own body. Lately however, how weight is discussed, and particularly my weight, has changed due to who I have now decided to love. I am, what those in the fat community would call, small fat. While I am considered “obese” by doctors standards, and my Trinidadian grandmother as well if i’m being honest, I am still seen as not “that fat.” My stomach is large and hangs but I have large breasts and an ass so people would commonly say that I’m fat, in the “right places.” I am also still considered desirable fat and couple that with my light skin privilege and you can see where I fall on the fat people have humanity spectrum. That being said I have faced my fair share of fatphobia. My grandmother continuously points out how big I am, and my weight is a topic for discussion almost every time we talk. I went clubbing 3 weeks ago and a man who was far from cute, even by cis hetero standards, decided to comment that I needed to step on a scale as I left the establishment. Of course there’s the casual “You’re a fat Black bitch anyways” that I receive when I turn men down. But for the first time in my life i’m experiencing a new kind of fatphobia and I don’t know how to feel about it.

My new partner is amazing. As someone who has dealt with abusive relationships, physical, verbal and emotional, has had her heart broken more times than I care to count and who has clear abandonment issues, she never makes me feel like i’m too much. She is supportive and loving, gentle and kind and she allows me to be me. No walls or facades, just me. I’ve waited my whole life for a love like this and now that I have it I have no idea how I could have confused anything else for it. We’re both Black women, her African-American and Bahamian, me Trinidadian and Grenadian. She lives in the United States and I live here in  Canada. She’s dark skin and i’m light skin, which means we understand that we both navigate this world differently. Our experiences as Black women are not the same. She’s masculine while I’m femme which means her hypervisibility is so much more than mine. If I could shield her from all of the people and things that would take my favourite parts of her and punish her for them, I would. With all of these intersectionalities you may be surprised to know that none of these seem to be the biggest worry for people. Its my weight. Or should I say my size. My very visible identity of being a fat woman seems to be the hottest topic for discussion and in a way that has me scratching my head and wondering why.

I’ll preface this by saying that my partner is a thin woman. Most would describe her physic as muscular slim. While I’m round and fluffy, she’s edges and angles. But not in a harsh way. They’re soft and catch the light in a way that causes me to lose my breath and just stare at how beautiful she is. That being said people have continuously been questioning her as to why she is with someone like me? And by someone like me they mean a fat femme. I’m sure you have heard the jokes before about why people date fat femmes. The seasonal meme’s appear about needing a fat body to keep you warm in the winter. And who can forget the tax season one? Black men dating fat women because her tax cheque has come in and he needs a place to stay. Images will flood your timeline of jokes about fat femmes giving the best head because we like to eat, but not being able to ride you because we’re too heavy. Most of these images and jokes are saved for fat white women. They’re still seen as desirable even in their fatness. Fat Black women aren’t afford the same luxury, even though fetishization isn’t actually a luxury. But nonetheless we’re not the fat bodies folks want to curl up next too, even if they’re too cold. We’re the mammies cooking fried chicken in the kitchen, loud and obnoxious. So it was important for me to showcase that we were more than that. So when my partner and I decided to become public with our relationship I chose to share that message. I talked about how she loved me for me and for all of the reasons that society deems as legitimate causes to date a fat woman. I wanted us to be visible. I wanted the world to see that fat, Black and queer women were out here being loved, and yes even by thin people.

It was overwhelming the amount of support we received. So many people were messaging us to tell us how our love touched them, how it gave them hope, how it was the representation they needed. Queer love. Black love. A fat woman being loved. My partner and I cried on several occasions because we were so moved. Yet there was something else that also came a long with that visibility. People started messaging her to discuss our relationship and also, my size. Folks wanted to know why she had chosen to date a fat woman. Would would make her, a thin woman, want to date someone of my size? We’re in an open relationship and even potential sexual partners questioned her for choice to be with me. It somehow became more of a mystery than how she started dating someone who lived all the way in Canada. And what was stranger is others began to congratulate her on dating a fat woman. As if she needed a round of an applause or a ribbon for choosing to date the fat girl. Now this is all new to me. In the past no one has ever questioned partners about my size and their choice to be with someone of it. It’s been unsettling to say the least and I haven’t necessarily been able to pinpoint how it makes me feel. I know that for someone they mean no harm. Society has conditioned people into believing that fat folks are undeserving of love and especially from what society deems as attractive people. TV shows and movies throw images of skinny ugly men with low levels of intelligence and living in poverty as being the ones who want us. Or Black men looking for a quick come up and easy woman to manipulate. And when they decide to show us actually and truly being loved, it’s always by another fat person, and always a man.

There are no positive images of fat Black women being loved by other woman on a large societal scale. Same sex love involving women identifying folks is saved for skinny “hot” white lesbians or goth chicks with a dangerous edge. And I’m tired of that image aren’t you? Show me the fat Black femme who’s being loved by another fat Black woman. Show me a disabled fat Black woman being loved by another Black body. And show me. Show me, a fat, Black queer woman being loved by another Black woman. And stop wondering why fat Black women are being loved, just know that we have been, we are and we will be.

  • Shanese Indoowaaboo Steele

Queer 4/20 Events

Saturday, April 20th, 2019 is 4/20. The day we celebrate Marijuana. The day we smoke our face off. The day we laugh at our own jokes. The day we eat everything in the fridge. The day we– wait what day is it again?

Since the much anticipated Legalization day on October 17th of 2018 recreational use of cannabis has been a hot topic. Cannabis focused events are popping up everywhere in the city!

Though we’ve been smoking on this date for years; this 4/20 is extra special nOw ThAt ItS lEgAl, so how should we celebrate it?
Here’s a curated list of queer events happening in Toronto on 4/20
*click photo for event details*

1. SMOKED presents : The 420 Ball

Smoke, dance, drink its a party!

2. 420 Comedy Festival 2019

420 comedy fest turns 3! A weekend of laughs!

3. SHADE Two Shows!

Prepare to laugh your ass off! USE CODE: 420 for 60%off


A handful of cannabis focused events happening here!

5. Drag King Brunch

Mmmmm who doesn’t love brunch? Try brunch with a show hosted by two handsome kings!

6. Cherrybomb

A queer classic!

Did we miss an event? emails info@qveen.to !

Local Flow

Are you ever looking for a little special something to add to your outfit? Maybe pins, or a leather harness, or a vegan one! Does your cute and tiny apartment needs some more art to liven up the space? 

What to do, oh what to do. 

Watch Trigger Warning with Killer Mike Episode 1.  
Then come back here and read the rest of this blog. 

Continue reading “Local Flow”


Preference. It’s peoples favourite word to use when they’re trying to explain why they won’t date someone of a certain race or gender. Most use it to explain away their transphobia or anti-Black racism. The dating world is full of preferences and the queer community is not exempt from this as in many ways we are a microcosm of the larger society. However, for many of us, the choice to date or not date someone based on their race is formed out of survival and not a predilection for one or the other.

Being a Black Indigenous woman living on stolen land in a colonial society means that dating is a lot more complicated than a simple right swipe on tinder or bumble. Add living in the colonial capital of Canada and dating in Ottawa seems dismal in comparison to other places. So where does preference come in for a Queer, fat, Afro-Indigenous woman like myself? Well it’s a simple question. Do I prefer to be with someone who could call me a Nigger the second things get rough OR do I prefer to be with someone who shares and understands my life experiences? Now that might seem a little extreme to an every day non-Black person, but as someone who has had that happen to them its more common than you think.

The internet is filled with videos of racialized partners facing racist vitriol from their significant others and while most of these videos involve white men, there are just as many including white women. I know what you’re thinking, “But those are cis- straight white women, Lesbians are intersectional.” Listen I wish you could see the eye roll I did just writing that. I’m going to write this in caps just so everyone can understand BEING A PART OF THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY DOES NOT ERASE YOU RACISM OR TRANSPHOBIA! Whew I’m glad we got that out of the way. So now that we’re on common ground I hope you can understand why for me personally, dating a white woman, and even sometimes a non-Black woman, just isn’t an option for me. This isn’t actually about preference, I don’t prefer Black or Indigenous women over white women, because I don’t want white women to begin with. 

Now I get it, you’re reading this thinking well, isn’t that exactly what a preference is. Wrong. A lot of folks these days don’t actually know what it means to have a preference. Instead of looking up some long winded dictionary definition of the term (lets be honest aint nobody trying to read that) i’ll just explain it in simpler terms. A preference is when you like two things but like one of the things a little bit more than the other. So I like both knuck if you buck and back that ass up (listen they’re both negro spirituals and equally as important to Black culture) but I like back that ass up a little bit more (its being played at my funeral). Which means I prefer Back that ass up over knuck if you buck. Saying you wont date dark skin Black women because you prefer white women isn’t a preference. That’s anti-Black racism and colourism. You just straight up don’t want to date someone dark skin (and FYI you’re a raging racist or have some internalized shit you need to work out). So I can comfortably sit here and say that not dating white women isn’t about preference.

Are you catching what I’m throwing out there? And before someone screams this is reverse racism (which say it with me, is not real) I’m going to explain why I feel this way. For me its more than just having someone who is of the same race as me, its deeper and more complex than that. As a Black woman there are things I’m going to face in my life that will be caused or upheld by white people, and thus white women. I need someone who understands that, who wont gaslight me, try to humanize my oppressors or to be frank, looks like my oppressors. I want someone who doesn’t equate feminism to the wage gap, hell I don’t want to be with someone who benefits from the wage gap. Yes, white women the wage gap war you fight so hard against leaves me out. I make less than cis white men and you. I want a partner my children can seem themselves in. I don’t want to have to explain why Back that ass up is a negro spiritual and should be played at my funeral and I don’t want to have to throw my seasoning away to cook Sheppard’s pie and casseroles for the rest of my life. And last but certainly not least I DON’T WANT THERE TO EVEN BE A SLIVER OF A CHANCE THAT MY PARTNER WILL FIX THEIR LIPS TO CALL ME A NIGGER. I want to feel safe in my home, in my bed and in someone’s arms. And for me white women do not and can not represent safety. And listen I have white women in my life that I love and respect, who have been there for me and held me down. But at the end of the day I know that can switch because of a factor that should be small but to society is big. I am an Afro-Indigenous woman. 

I’ve been in Ottawa for 4 months now. I love it here. There are so many job opportunities, its so much cheaper than Toronto, I have some amazing friends here and it gives me a real chance to re-learn French. But it also means that finding the person of my dreams looks slimmer then I would like. It means that it takes about 20 swipes on a dating app for me to come across a Black or Brown face. I’ve seen parts of the QBIPOC community here in Ottawa and they’re beautiful and thriving. But it’s small and isn’t always as accessible as it is in Toronto. So I’m taking it one day at time. And just like the wage gap, job opportunities, the ability to be seen as docile, and access to health care, white women just have more chances of finding love, and that’s why they’ll never be a part of my preference for dating. 

  • Shanese Indoowaaboo Steele


This was my motto for the year. I remember seeing it in the early days of January 2018 (soon to be renamed) on Tumblr (pre-censorship of course). I remember feeling a little confusion, and a lot of understanding at the same time. This will be the year.

As a new year approaches, we tend to look back and say how awful the last 12 months were and how exciting the new replacement will be. My first couple weeks of January 2018, I hoped for the same, but felt the negativity of 2017 drag on. Until I grasped TwentyGayteen by its septum ring, and took charge of how I was going to live the year.

I decided I was going to get involved. I was going to start dating – all sorts of people. Throw myself out there! I met some beauties and some busts. I matched with a lot of women who have no effort or attempt to carry conversation, learning some of the frustrations of queer women, and dating. I immersed myself in the queer, local, Toronto scene as much as I could. Learning what the city and community has to offer. Helping out with Pride planning, partaking in an international parade, and even embarking on a journey or two I never would have expected.

This year we saw a lot of representation a in the media. Fictional characters, Rosa Dias, Wonder Woman, both played by bisexual Actresses; Janelle Monae, Kehlani, Brendon Urie, loads of others who came out and made TwentyGayteen even gayer.

My timelines saw a lot of success and happiness around the world. Australia’s yes vote, decriminalizing consensual same sex relations in India, the ability to change your gender marker, or to mark an X on legal documents in Ontario. We definitely still have ways to go, but TwentyGayteen was a huge success in my eyes.

Let’s look back on all the positive, queer and loving goodness of the year, and not let it die as we go into the new one.

I plan to keep #TwentyGayteen alive annually. It will always be our year.