Windsor-Essex Pride Fest to hold community engagement sessions in county



By Jolene Perron


Those within the LGBTIQ2S+ community are being called upon to attend community engagement sessions throughout the county over the next couple of months as a local organization plans to deliver new specialized programs.

With funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Windsor-Essex Pride Fest (WEPF) is planning to develop and deliver recreational and social programs to ensure all members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Questioning, Two Spirit (LGBTIQ2S+) community have access to programming to ensure that they can connect and engage with other members of the LGBTIQ2S+ community and the greater community as a whole.

“The best way for us to understand what type of engagement would best serve the LGBTIQ2S+ community, especially outside of Windsor, is to hold community consultations to give members of the Windsor-Essex community the opportunity to tell us what programs they would like to see, and what are the best ways for us to provide opportunities for engagement and connection,” said David Lenz, president of the WEPF. “We chose the Town of Essex, Municipality of Leamington and the Town of Amherstburg as our Community Consultation locations.”

Lenz said they hope all members of the LGBTIQ2S+ community who live outside the city of Windsor limits, as well as their families, will attend the sessions to share their thoughts and ideas on how WEPF can best provide opportunities for connections and engagement in their respective communities. WEPF wants to know exactly what kinds of programs and social activities people in the LGBTIQ2S+ community need and want.

Currently, WEPF does not have any programming opportunities available in Amherstburg.

“The LGBTIQ2S+ community experiences a unique social isolation compared with other marginalized groups,” said Lenz. “Research indicates that the individuals in the LGBTTQIA community are 2.5 times more likely to live alone. The lack of peer or social support, activities, gatherings or other connective resources in the community cause a form of social isolation that often escalates into a number of other problems, including homelessness, depression, violence, suicidal ideation, drug and alcohol abuse and dropping out of school for some LGBTIQ2S+ youth.”

This is the reason the WEPF non-profit organization was developed. It is incorporated in the Province of Ontario and run by a volunteer Board of Directors, geared towards bringing members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer, Questioning and Two Spirit (LGBTIQ2S) community together, as well as their friends, allies and supporters.

“Through advocacy, social programs/events and initiatives, WEPF strengthens the sense of community and contributes to the vibrancy, health and overall well-being of LGBTIQ2S persons in Windsor-Essex,” said Lenz. “Windsor-Essex Pride Fest’s goal through it’s social programs funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation is to support the LGBTIQ2S community by empowering individuals to reach out to each other and to facilitate opportunities for connection and belonging through age-specific activities or initiatives, peer-facilitated groups, workshops and special events which will address social isolation and create a social environment that is more accommodating, resilient and connected to the broader LGBTTQIA community in Windsor-Essex.”

The community engagement session in Amherstburg is Jan. 31 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Amherstburg Community Services office.

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