Interview: Why Pride matters

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Interview: Why Pride matters

with Wayne Peterson

Wayne Peterson, Photo

Celebrating Pride is an important way that we stand with our LGBTQIA2S+ community members, and it reminds us of the continuous work we need to do to create inclusive spaces.

We sat down with Wayne Peterson, Board Member of the Kensington Health Foundation, to discuss why Pride matters to him.

Wayne has been a community advocate since 2017, having served as a Civilian Co-Chair of the Community Policing Liaison Committee (CPLC) for downtown Toronto’s 51 Division. He served in this role during the Bruce McArthur investigation, and brought civilians and police together in dialogue during what was a difficult time for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

He was also a senior executive at Holt Renfrew, The Hudson’s Bay and Sears Canada.  For the past three years, he has cared for his mother who lives in long-term care in Calgary.

Q: Why does Pride matter to you?

Pride matters to me because it has become a celebration of life, freedom and acceptance, when friends, family and total strangers get together. It is a time when the community gets together. It is also an appropriate time to stand up, speak up and remember that it was not always easy to be out and gay, at home, school, work and in society. You should never have to hide who you are.

Q: You joined Kensington’s Pride Event last year, what were your impressions?

I arrived a little early and simply walked around. I felt a buildup of tremendous excitement, energy, commitment, camaraderie, acceptance and celebration.

People seemed to truly enjoy themselves. Professional staff, Board members, volunteers and members of the public talked to residents, guests, friends and family. It felt inclusive and important. The speeches were motivational and moving. One of the highlights was the raising of the rainbow flag. My impression was that a vibrant culture, a sensitivity to what matters, and a welcoming style was part of the Kensington experience.

Q: Why is it important for Kensington Health to celebrate Pride?

Kensington Market and Kensington Health are both tolerant, diverse, and colorful. Essentially both are self-contained, multi-cultural communities where inclusion matters.

Pride at Kensington Health shows leadership in the community. It means the residents and staff can be themselves regardless of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Q: Are there particular issues in community care that affect our LGBTQIA2S+ community members?

Yes, definitely, and this is really important.  Many people who identify with this community are without traditional support systems in terms of personal care.  Many LGBTQIA2S+ elders rely on long-term care, as they may not have family or children to support them in their later years.

There are many issues but three priorities come to mind:

  • The fear of being out and vulnerable. This community does not want to go back into the closet in their golden years. Long-term care should not be long-term closet.
  • Fear of discrimination from staff, residents and practitioners. This could include verbal or physical harassment.
  • Stigma and bias. These people lived through discrimination, lack of legal protection and the AIDS crisis. What they need now are basic services, understanding and proper medical care.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

What it really boils down to is very good quality care, inclusiveness, understanding and acceptance. These are the behaviors that all people need now.  Kensington is doing this by raising staff awareness, self-assessments of the facility, an open culture and a reputation for quality care. This was evidenced by last year’s “Loud and Proud Celebration." The event was planned by the “We Respect All People” (WRAP) Committee. It was supported by the management, and attracted a diverse audience.

I was happy to participate in last year’s event.  I am honoured to be part of the Kensington Health Foundation Board of Directors, and a Proud community member myself.

Thank you, Wayne, for sharing your thoughts. It’s great to see our leadership actively engaged in making Kensington an even more inclusive and diverse place!


About the Kensington Health Foundation

Philanthropy has always played a central role in ensuring the quality of Kensington’s care. Since 1978, The Foundation has provided financial support to Kensington Health, and today allocates more than $3.5M annually to cover capital and operational costs of services beyond government funding. This includes all the things that make Kensington special – music therapy, family counselling, exercise classes, holistic care, bereavement supports and many others. Learn more.

Posted in Community Connects, Featured on Jun 26, 2020