• Cicely Blain

Queer Calgary Founder Kate Paterson on Queer Liberation


Being different doesn’t make you any less worthy – a concept that Kate Paterson hopes fellow Calgarians keep in mind. Founder of Kepaterson Consulting and Queer Calgary, Kate felt compelled to provide a means of educating individuals on the realities faced by queer communities. “I felt the pull to turn the jargony language and theories I’ve learnt during my past 10 years in academia into tangible, accessible information for folks who may have the desire to serve their communities better, but perhaps do not have the resources (or access to resources) that can help further their thinking and practices towards being LGBTQ2SA+ and gender affirming.”

Kepaterson Consulting/Queer Calgary advocates for the acceptance of queer communities in Alberta – though Kate would rather this not be considered as wanting to promote inclusion. “I am always a bit hesitant to use the word ‘inclusion’ because I think it has become a loaded term that implies that we are ‘including others’ into the dominant group, or ‘making space for others,’” she explains. “That said, a goal of my work is to move towards queer liberation (rather than inclusion, tolerance, or acceptance), to expand the range of possibilities for who and what we are (as individuals, communities and as a collective society) can be. From here, we can look further into beliefs, values and practices that can be explored or put into place to help support this broader view of intersecting identities and experiences.”

For Alberta, intolerance towards queer communities isn’t unfamiliar. “Queer communities in Alberta are struggling for the right to simply exist (which of course, is sadly not a unique challenge or problem in our world),” she explains. “This is particularly glaring given our province’s history of political and societal conservatism (and most recent devastating provincial election and ensuing policies and bills that are stripping queer folks of their rights). We are faced with the challenge of confronting dominant colonialist ideologies and belief systems that are strongly embedded in the culture of Alberta as being part of the ‘wild west.’ Access to queer competent educators, service providers, health care practitioners and community spaces are among some of the primary challenges faced by the queer communities I live and work with.”

Paterson cites articulating the need to rethink current attitudes towards queer communities as being one of the most difficult parts of her initiative. “One of the biggest challenges I face is conveying to individuals, businesses and institutions that we all need to reflect upon and confront our policies and practices, regardless of the service we provide or the communities we think we are serving,” she says. “LGBTQ2SA+ and gender affirming policies and practices are often only implemented if/when an employee or customer/client comes out and requires ‘accommodation’.”

With a strong foundation in place, Kate hopes to create a space that promotes queer acceptance in Alberta. “Queer affirming policies and practices (as well as deconstructing ideas about gender and sexuality) are of benefit to everyone,” she explains. “Unfortunately, this work is often seen as additive or unnecessary.”

Through her efforts, Paterson encourages organizations to show their allyship through proactivity. “Listen to queer community members, ask questions (when appropriate and offer compensation for labour), provide space for concerns and suggestions to be raised and follow through. Be willing to confront your own privileges and assumptions about identity and experience. Address the impacts you – as a business, practitioner, service provider, teacher, etc. — have had on queer folks, and seek resources or trainings on how to improve policies and practices to be more affirming towards the community,” she urges. “Expand and confront your personal and collective understandings of gender and sexuality.”

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