You Can DanceWalk If You Want To: St. John’s Event Fights Stigma Around LGBTQ2S+ Identity

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Raise Up Fundraising (RUF) and the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador (ACNL) are hosting the 4th annual DanceWalk event in celebration of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBiT).

The event will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17 at the War Memorial on Water Street.

RUF President Charlie Murphy created DanceWalk to promote inclusion and raise awareness about homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. The event’s organizers invite people of all ages to join the DanceWalk in their most colourful clothing and most outrageous dancing shoes. People are also encouraged to bring signs and banners showing their support.

“The event will begin with some speakers talking about their personal experiences and ways that they’d like the City of St. John’s and the province to help stop hate towards LGBTQ individuals, and how to make the province safer for those individuals. After the speakers we’ll dancewalk down the street” Murphy said.

Murphy explained that the DanceWalk’s route passes through George Street because it is an area that sometimes feels dangerous for marginalized people. Dancing down the street in a celebration of queer identity is a way of reclaiming that street.

“The event is about promoting safety and trying to take away the stigma around being part of the LGBTQ community… So it is a celebration but at the same time it’s definitely a demonstration that says these individuals are your community members. This is a fun way of bringing awareness to a situation that is really serious and can be very damaging,” Murphy said.

The march will wrap up with a dance party in front of Rocket Bakery. Organizers are currently taking suggestions through the DanceWalk Facebook event for the DanceWalk’s soundtrack.They are looking for songs that are appropriate for all ears and will get people jazzed to break out some moves and maybe even sing along.

“It’s going to be very upbeat, we’re trying to make it as lively as possible so people walking or driving by will wonder what’s happening and maybe look into it or ask us so we can spread the message of the day and the meaning of the event itself,” Murphy said.

DanceWalk is one of hundreds of events happening on IDAHOBiT with the aim of drawing the attention of policymakers, the media, and the public to the discrimination faced by LGBTQ2S+ individuals.

IDAHOBiT was founded in 2004 to commemorate May 17th as the day the World Health Organization decided to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. Today IDAHOBiT is celebrated in over 130 countries and is officially recognized by several international institutions.

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Eva Crocker

Eva Crocker is a writer from St. John's, her short story collection, Barrelling Forward, was published by House of Anansi Press in Spring of 2017.

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