Collective Joy: Five Ways Rainbow Inspires Joy and Strengthens Community

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The idea of joy may feel quaint or simplistic at a time, but it's precisely at times like this that joy can be the secret to building resilience and strengthening community. As we head into Pride season, we talked to five of Rainbow's team to learn their perspectives on queer and trans joy and why such a simple thing is much more important than it seems.


Bryce Byron | Database Manager & Facilitator, Crafting Queerly

Despite all our legislative progress over the past few decades existing in this world as a visibly queer and trans person continues to be a struggle. Most spaces continue to exist within the expectation that people accessing them will conform to cis-hetero norms. In creating Crafting Queerly, I wanted to create a space that inverts those expectations. That inversion is Queer and Trans Joy.

The first thing I tell people who show up to Crafting Queerly is “make yourself at home”. It is a space where queer and trans folks can take off the masks and armour they may need to wear in order to navigate our cis-hetero-patriarchal world. Free from these external expectations folks can connect with friends, build community, and create art. My dream is that creations made at Crafting Queerly will capture some of the Trans and Queer Joy that we experience in the room together so we can carry it forward into the wider world.

Come join us in building a world where Queer and Trans Joy can grow and thrive.


Madison Neapew / Blue Thunderbird Ikwe | Youth Program Coordinator

As the Youth Program Coordinator for Rainbow Resource Centre, it’s a privilege to experience and watch others experience Queer Joy. Queer joy to me is celebrating the complexities of who we are and the history that has progressed 2SGLBTQ+ rights and community. Queer Joy is the feeling of empowerment. I see it each time we have youth program where the youth feel comfortable enough to talk, share, and celebrate identities in a safer space that we as a group created. Queer Joy is Community. Queer Joy builds resiliency and through folk’s lived experience reminds us how far we have come but how far we still have to go in order for the 2SLGBTQ+ to thrive.


Elizabeth McMechan | Older Adult Program Coordinator

Queer Joy is how this community survives, and the Older Adult Program is nothing if not a testament to survival, resiliency, and the power that a community truly holds.

I have had the utmost honour to work with the 2SLGBTQ+ older adults in the Over the Rainbow program for the last year, and in that time, I have come to see queer joy in action. The folks I work with have lived through difficult times: the AIDS crisis, rallies and marches against hate, through violence spewed at them from the steps of the Legislature. Some passed through that time in the closet, having to hide this innate sense of themselves from others for their protection and safety. But now, 20, 30, 40 years later, the strings of time have led them all to Rainbow Resource Centre, gathered around, laughing and smiling as their authentic selves in the safe space they have always deserved.

I have the immense privilege to witness queer joy in action every day at my job - older adults enjoying their peace after decades of fighting or hiding, they get to sit back and revel in the pride and joy of queerness.

I have learned to thank my queer elders for what they have done for this community, and I honour their work and sacrifices by reveling in my own queer joy every day, alongside them.


Mateo Llanillos | Counsellor & Facilitator, Transmasculine Manitoba

For me, trans joy has evolved over the last 16 years. Currently, I find trans joy in simply existing because there was a time when I didn’t see a future for myself where I could live comfortably in my body. The ability to feel a sense of connection to my body feels surreal at times and it often feels like a privilege.

The trans community is a wonderfully diverse demographic of people. As the facilitator of the Trans. Masculine support group, I have had numerous discussions with other trans people surrounding different topics, including how joy is experienced. Trans joy is a personal experience and is experienced at different levels; trans joy isn’t intrinsically experienced by all trans people either. For some trans people, trans joy is a celebration of self expression and identity, for others it can be an experience in finding a sense of comfort and ease. On a larger scale, trans joy can be a celebration of community, survival, and existence. Without question, all perspectives are valuable and valid.

Regardless of how trans joy is experienced (or not experienced), joy is contagious. As a counsellor I understand how emotions can be transmitted from person to person through interactions. Joy and hope are deeply interconnected and often coexist and reinforce each other. Hope fosters resilience within communities by instilling a sense of optimism and belief in the possibility of positive outcomes. When we are hopeful, we are able to navigate challenges better and overcome obstacles. When we share our joy with one another, we foster a collective sense of strength and resilience.


Ashley Smith | Director of Advocacy

Over the last year alone, there have been dozens of examples of forces working to undermine 2SLGBTQ+ people in Canada. In my role, that has meant being a highly visible person in the media and in community, which is a lot of pressure amid these difficult times. In this frenzy of anti-trans rhetoric and threats to our hard-won rights, I know first-hand the small opportunities for queer joy have never been more vital.

Amidst the darkness of oppression, the celebration of queer joy shines as a beacon of resilience and hope. It is a defiant act of self-love and acceptance, a refusal to be silenced or diminished. At Pride, the vibrant colors, the unapologetic self-expression, and the celebration of our diverse identities, are the assertion of our right to exist, thrive, and find happiness on our own terms. But joy is also a smaller thing – it’s in the private, quiet moments. It’s shared smiles, laughter, dancing, having dinner with friends. I can only hope that all of us in this community can find that joy, for even just a moment, and be restored by it, if even just briefly.

Queer joy is a powerful antidote to the forces that seek to erase us. It is a testament to the strength and solidarity of our community, a reminder that we will not be broken, and that our spirits will continue to soar, no matter the obstacles we face. In these challenging times, queer joy is an act of resistance, a celebration of our resilience, and a promise of a brighter future.


This Pride, Rainbow hopes you can you join us and community at an event to recharge yourself with some joy and community. With so many ways to celebrate Pride with Rainbow this season, we hope there's something for you. You can learn more about what Rainbow has planned this Pride season, here: