Breaking Barriers Over Breakfast: The Significance of IDAHOT 2023 and Qmunity’s BC Impact


In the heart of Vancouver, enveloped in the grandeur of the Fairmont Hotel, I recall the unity and determination that resonated throughout the room during Qmunity’s IDAHOT Breakfast in 2019. As a psychotherapist, I have witnessed firsthand the myriad of challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and that day, as we gathered under the theme “Justice and Protection for All,” there was an undeniable cohesiveness, a shared commitment to protect our trans* and queer neighbours from hate and discrimination.

In the four years since that breakfast, the world has witnessed an alarming rise in oppressive narratives aimed at the LGBTQ+ community. The escalating hostility portrayed in the news against our diverse identities has been a stark reminder of the importance of standing together, of renewing our commitment to fight against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. So this year, more than ever, IDAHOT holds a critical significance. It is a call to arms, a beacon of hope, and a reminder of the strength in our diversity and unity.

IDAHOT: A Global Stand Against Discrimination

Initiated in 2004, The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) serves as a global platform to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex individuals and all those with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.

This initiative has grown from a single committee to a collaborative effort of various regional and thematic networks dedicated to advancing rights for people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics. Today, more than 130 countries, including those with illegal same-sex acts, demonstrating this initiative’s expansive reach and influence, officially recognize IDAHOT.

IDAHOT has gained official recognition from several states, international institutions such as the European Parliament, and innumerable local authorities. In addition, numerous United Nations agencies also commemorate this day with specific events, further emphasizing its global importance.

This blog post serves as a tribute to IDAHOT, an exploration of its significance, and a rallying cry for us all to engage in the fight against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. As we delve into the history, impact, and ways to participate in IDAHOT, this post will inspire you to take action and reaffirm your commitment to promoting acceptance, equality, and justice.

DAHOT: A Day of Recognition, Remembrance, and Resistance

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) is a globally recognized day dedicated to raising awareness of the violence and discrimination that individuals with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics face. Initiated in 2004, IDAHOT has grown from a singular effort to a broad collaboration of regional and thematic networks striving to advance the rights of these individuals.

The primary objective of IDAHOT is to draw attention to these issues globally, making decision-makers, media, corporations, opinion leaders, local authorities, and the general public aware of the alarming situation faced by people within the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, IDAHOT serves as a call to action, urging all sectors of society to acknowledge and challenge the systemic prejudices and injustices experienced by these individuals.

May 17th: A Date That Changed the Course of History

The specific choice of May 17th as the day of observance for IDAHOT holds an essential place in the history of LGBTQ+ rights. This date commemorated the World Health Organization’s pivotal decision made in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

This was a landmark moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, and by commemorating this date, IDAHOT not only celebrates this significant victory but also serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle against deeply rooted societal biases and prejudices. It calls for continuous effort towards dispelling misconceptions, advocating for equal rights, and promoting acceptance and understanding of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics.

Tracing the Footprints of IDAHOT: From 2004 to Now

The Genesis and Evolution of IDAHOT: A Fight Against Hate

IDAHOT started as a global initiative in 2004, primarily aiming to draw attention to the violence and discrimination faced by individuals with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and sex characteristics. The origin of IDAHOT was a testament to the commitment of activists worldwide who were determined to raise awareness of these issues on a global scale.

Over the years, IDAHOT has grown and evolved, transcending geographic boundaries and societal norms. From a single committee, it has developed into a global collaboration of various regional and thematic networks that work towards advancing the rights of individuals who identify as LGBTQ+.

IDAHOT: A Timeline of Triumphs and Trials

Numerous achievements and milestones have marked the journey of IDAHOT. As a result, its recognition and acceptance have grown exponentially, with celebrations now taking place in over 130 countries.

IDAHOT has been instrumental in bringing the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals to the forefront of societal consciousness. The day has received official recognition from several states and international institutions, such as the European Parliament. In addition, many United Nations agencies commemorate the day, further amplifying its significance and reach.

Qmunity: A Gathering Place for the LGBTQ+ Community

Qmunity: A Home Away from Home for Queer, Trans, and Two-Spirit Individuals

Based in Vancouver, BC, QMUNITY is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives. They provide a safer space for 2SLGBTQIA+ people and their allies, fostering an environment of acceptance and inclusion. Their building catalyzes community initiatives and collective strength.

QMUNITY aims to improve queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives through services, connection, and leadership. They work towards this mission through three pillars:

  • Support: QMUNITY empowers individuals to be their best selves, offering free counselling, information and referrals, access to gender-affirming chest wear, and one-on-one peer support for youth.
  • Connection: The organization strengthens LGBTQ2SAI+ communities, fostering inclusivity, connectivity, and resilience through peer-facilitated support and social groups, special events, and opportunities for volunteers and practicum students.
  • Leadership: QMUNITY leads the way towards legal and lived equality in our society, offering Queer Competency workshops, educational resources, and advisory and consulting services.

Personal Testaments of Qmunity’s Impact and Influence

Since its inception, QMUNITY has touched countless lives through its services, creating positive ripples within the queer, trans, and Two-Spirit communities. Their commitment to celebration, anti-oppression, intersectionality, and reconciliation is apparent in their everyday work.

Their work resonates with individuals who have been able to express themselves freely, find support in times of need, and establish strong connections within the community. From the youth who found solace in peer support, the individuals who accessed life-changing counselling services, to the many who found a sense of belonging within their inclusive space, QMUNITY’s impact is widespread and profound.

While these stories are too numerous and personal to recount here, each one serves as a testament to the invaluable role QMUNITY plays in fostering vibrant, diverse, and celebrated queer, trans, and Two-Spirit communities, empowering individuals to live their lives fully and free from discrimination.

The IDAHOT Breakfast Tradition: Breaking Barriers Over Breakfast

IDAHOT Breakfast: A Gathering of Allies and Advocates

QMUNITY’s annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) breakfast, presented by Vancity, has been a staple in our community for the past 17 years. Hosted at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, this event is more than just a meal—it’s a gathering of government officials, corporate partners, and community members who come together to raise awareness of the continued discrimination faced by 2SLGBTQIA+ communities worldwide, particularly in BC.

This year’s breakfast carries the deep intention of creating safer spaces for queer, trans, and Two-Spirit people to live their lives free from discrimination and hate. In addition, there will be a special spotlight on 2SLGBTQIA+ programs and services and a preview of QMUNITY’s new building, which will soon break ground at Davie & Burrard.

The Lifeline of Qmunity: The Crucial Role of Fundraising

Fundraising is an integral part of the IDAHOT Breakfast. The money raised during this annual event on May 17th helps Qmunity to provide essential services and programs to 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals all year round. With the increasing demand for these services, the financial support from the community, whether it be a one-time donation or monthly
contributions can make a significant difference.

Qmunity’s unyielding mission to improve the lives of every queer, trans, and Two-Spirit person in BC is made possible due to the staunch support from their Presenting Sponsor, Vancity, and their new Champion Sponsor, Lawson Lundell. These contributions, in addition to the invaluable support from the community, are crucial in propelling Qmunity’s mission forward.

Notably, the funds raised are more than just monetary aid. They represent a collective stand against discrimination, a unified cry for justice, and an affirmation of the rights and dignities of all 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals. They ensure that Qmunity can continue to serve as a place of refuge, support, and acceptance for those who need it most.

Joining the IDAHOT Movement: How You Can Make a Difference

Engaging with IDAHOT: A Menu of Ways to Participate

  1. Attend the IDAHOT Breakfast: Join Qmunity for the annual IDAHOT Breakfast and show your support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
  2. Donate to trans* and queer organizations: Your donation, no matter how big or small, can go a long way in supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ programs and services.
  3. Spread awareness: Use your platforms—be it social media, a blog, or conversations with friends—to talk about IDAHOT and the issues that 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals face.
  4. Volunteer with trans* and queer organizations: There are numerous volunteer opportunities within QMUNITY. Reach out and see how you can contribute your time and skills.
  5. Educate yourself and others: Learn about the history of LGBTQ+ rights, current challenges, and ways to be an ally. Share your knowledge with others.

The Ripple Effect: The Significance of Individual Contribution

Every contribution, whether it’s attending the IDAHOT breakfast, making a donation, or spreading awareness, can make a significant difference. Your involvement sends a strong message of solidarity and support to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Individual actions, when multiplied, can lead to substantial societal change.

Wrapping Up: The Way Forward in Our Struggle for Acceptance

As we reflect on the significance of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, it is clear that our fight is far from over. IDAHOT serves as a reminder of the continuous struggle against hate, violence, and discrimination that too many of our queer and trans* neighbours face daily.

Today, I want to speak directly to my trans* community, who are visible on this day: I see you and acknowledge your presence. I am grateful for your presence, and I am sorry that such courage is critical. To the trans-feminine and BIPOC individuals, the undocumented, the unhoused, and those who face the harshest exposure, I know there is nowhere else left to go. I see you to the invisible ones, the ones bombarded with hatred, and those lacking the safety to be authentic.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” —Audre Lorde in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Allies, your involvement must extend beyond awareness. We are being harmed and pushed to the brink of despair to the point of self-destruction. They are criminalizing our existence further. Please provide a love that doesn’t need to know or approve of us before standing against the injustice we face.

We can only triumph over this hate and secure our collective survival by standing together. Solidarity is our strength, our guard, and our most potent weapon.

At this time, as we commemorate IDAHOT, let’s pledge to foster a world where diversity is celebrated, acceptance is the norm, and love does not discriminate. Let’s unite to challenge the status quo, break the barriers, and create a more accepting and inclusive world. Because, together, we can and we will.

On this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, let’s commit to recognizing, accepting, and celebrating all the beautiful diversity in our world.

Disclaimer: This blog shares general information only, not professional advice or recommendations. Consult healthcare providers for personal guidance. Decisions based on content are the reader's responsibility. Thank you.

Clayre runs a group practice of three queer and trans therapists, including youth therapist Audrey Wolfe, RCC, LGBT therapist Camber Giberson, RCC, CCC, and gender-affirming therapist Clayre Sessoms, RP, RCT, RCC, CCC, ATR-P. Work with us: book a session.