Spring is among us and it is time to rejoice - the days are longer, temperatures are above freezing, and we can all sense an impending defrost that will allow us to wear t-shirts again - a time for smiles all around. For myself, as a Gay Canadian-Iranian Muslim, the onset of Spring is synonymous with rebirth and new beginnings. As with many of us who have come out of the closet, we’re all familiar with the theme of rebirth.
The first day of spring coincides with Iranian New Year or Nowruz. Nowruz is a flamboyant two week series of festivities centred around welcoming the new. As a child these two weeks were filled with rose water infused sweets, colourful tabletop displays referred to as the haftsin, and my favourite part, an entirely new wardrobe to parade around in. As the child of immigrants, I often struggled to fit in. Working to assimilate myself with my Caucasian classmates was a daily task. During Nowruz however, I was able to proudly display my culture as I described each night’s events to my friends. For once, my friends were in awe of my culture. They wanted to know how they too could be showered with attention, gifts, and overindulgence during a time that was distinct from Christmas or their birthdays. This became an impactful learning moment where I was able to use my experience to educate and spark interest in diversity.
The need to spread awareness about our differences and develop interest through education seems to be necessary now more than ever. With the horrific events last week that targeted the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand, we are reminded that we can either allow our differences to divide us, or we can embrace them and grow closer and stronger as a community. Instead of spending time trying to distance ourselves from our culture and backgrounds, let us consider working together to educate others about the value of diversity. This is especially important for empowering our LGBTQ+ communities.
As I mentioned earlier, the coming out process is very much a recognition of new beginnings, just like the new year can be for many of us. It is a pivotal moment in accepting our identify and realizing our path towards happiness and honesty. It can be quite the celebratory moment, which is the premise of Let Me Out: a pop-out about coming out. As someone who struggled with not only my sexual identity but also my ethnicity, I wanted to create a resource that reflected my narrative and coming out process. Let Me Out is a new children’s LGBTQ+ book, which reflects on our fears and concerns with coming to terms with our identities. It is only once our main character learns to overcome these fears or “monsters inside the closet” that they can begin proudly wearing their truth for the world to see.
We are currently evolving into a society that proudly wears their truths and their pride on their hearts and sleeves, and it is inspiring to see businesses like Gay Pride Apparel empower LGBTQ+ identities. Similar to Let Me Out, Gay Pride Apparel is working to spread the mantra of wearing and owning your truth. By wearing your pride you are not only showcasing your confidence in being who you are meant to be, but you are radiating a message to help others around you to consider doing the same. So whether it be through showcasing a diverse LGBTQ+ book in your home library, or wearing a piece of apparel that expresses your pride, you have the ability to spark interest in others and educate them about diversity and acceptance.
Omid Razavi is an LGBTQ2 advocate based in Toronto, Canada. Using his years of marketing and communications experience he currently serves as the Director of Communications for Pflag Canada. Pflag Canada is committed to strengthening the bond within families of the LGBTQ2 community, as well as allies and communities, while helping all those with issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression across Canada. Omid is also the creator of Let Me Out - a platform of resources for the coming out journey. Let Me Out will be releasing its first LGBTQ+ children’s book in April called Let Me Out: a pop-out about coming out. The book is a resource for all those struggling with their identity as well as an advocacy tool for allies and the LGBTQ2 community, and can be purchased at comingoutlgbt.com.