Devon P. Hargreaves is the Chair of the Lethbridge Pride Fest. Here we talk about trans and LGBTQ or sexual minority issues and the Lethbridge Pride Fest.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was family background regarding culture religion, and language?
Devon P. Hargreaves: Pretty status quo, white, English-speaking, and very Christian, more on the Evangelical side of things.
Jacobsen: When did you first find the sexual minority community? Was this the first time of feeling welcome?
Hargreaves: I think Fort McMurray is where I found the first LGBT community. I wasn’t a part of it. But it made me aware that it was there.
Jacobsen: You are the chair of the Lethbridge Pride Fest. How did you earn the position? What tasks and responsibilities come with the position?
Hargreaves: I did one year as a marketing director. Then I did two years as vice chair. Now, I did one year as chair. Now, I am onto my second term (2018). As far as tasks, I oversee the functions of the society as well as being very involved in terms of planning events.
Things like that.
Jacobsen: Can you relay some of the highlights of the event?
Hargreaves: We had a crosswalk vandalized with paint. One highlight was seeing how the community came together in the face of that. We had a university campout to protect it. The support from the community shows that one act doesn’t define a community as a whole.
Jacobsen: What will be the highlights for this year outside of the warm feeling of everyone coming together? Why will those be the highlights? What is the story of their own organization? In other words, their own inclusion into things.
Those are the highlights I am looking forward to. It was our 9th anniversary in 2017, and preparation is well underway for our big 10. We have a great board. We couldn’t do what we do without the people that here.
Jacobsen: Why is Pride important for places such as Lethbridge and Alberta?
Hargreaves: We are in the Bible Belt of Alberta. It is bringing awareness and visibility to LGBT needs. It allows people to see that it even exists and to raise awareness. Pride is very educational, even though it feels like a party.
We are letting people know we are here and getting them to join us.
Jacobsen: Is Canada by and large better for sexual minority communities?
Hargreaves: I would say we are not all the way there but getting there. Having friends who have immigrated and having the ability to be open with their sexuality and orientation, it definitely does help too.
In regards to Canada, I feel we’re on the right track. There is still a-ways to-go regarding acceptance mainly with trans individuals in our community. We do have progress to make, even with the reaction we got nationally and internationally was both heartening and enlightening.
Jacobsen: Where is Canada doing good and bad for sexual minorities?
Hargreaves: We have protections in place. We have our justice system that discourages violence against some members in the community as well as an overall acceptance of the fact being attracted to someone of the opposite orientation is acceptable. For as where we are struggling, we have a-ways to-go in respecting trans rights.
I would like to see some recognition given to our two-spirit community. I feel in Canada that this is a bit lacking. We’re actually going to be having that inclusion.
Jacobsen: Can you relay some of our experience? Some of your own hardships.
Hargreaves: Most of the hardships actually come from the work that Pride has done. I ended on meme pages on Australia. I had my name spread around by people who were not as accepting, but I do not take it personally.
It is not part of the fight. We will not continue to do that and opposition is not going to stop us.
Jacobsen: Who are common allies for the sexual minority community in Canada?
Hargreaves: In Lethbridge, we have some great partner organizations, including OUTreach, ARCHES, and Club Didi/Theatre Outre.
Jacobsen: How can we best move the conversation forward as well as make this a means from which to act in Canadian society to be able to get to that better point?
Hargreaves: Moving the conversation forward, it is about giving that discussion place to take form. I will reference back to our crosswalks. Most people don’t even know what the trans flag was.
By putting it on the asphalt and seeing it, people asked, “What is that?” It was allowing people to see that. Then it was a matter of “What are trans right and issues? Why are they getting singled out next to the rainbow flag? Aren’t they part of that?”
They might have been lashed at by the Pride community in the past, as well as getting to educate our entire city council on what trans issues were and even to some of them what “trans” meant.
Jacobsen: What are the most effective means of activism?
Hargreaves: As far as my role goes, it is starting that discussion and being able to sit down and have that talk about what the needs and desires of our community are and bringing that to a wider audience more than one person can do on their own.
Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts?
Hargreaves: I feel like Canada is doing well with trans rights and issues. It is more of a recognition and appreciation is something that is lacking, but we are starting to educate and have that discussion and would encourage others to have that discussion.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Devon.
Image Credit: Devon P. Hargreaves.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.