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Remembering Kyle Scanlon


Remembering Kyle Scanlon

Kyle Scanlon IMAGE 1 OF 1
Community mourns death of remarkable leader
Members of Toronto's queer communities are mourning the death of Kyle Scanlon, who was found in his home after committing suicide on July 3.
Scanlon was the 519 Church St Community Centre's education, training and research coordinator.

"Kyle has worked at The 519 for a decade and during that time helped to redefine the face of trans community services in Toronto and across Canada. Projects like Trans Access, Trans Pulse and Project Open Door will continue to advance the rights, health and vibrancy of our trans communities and will serve as a legacy of Kyle's commitment and passion," reads a statement issued by The 519.

"The entire 519 community mourns the loss of our dear friend and a remarkable community leader. Counselling and support services are being coordinated for staff of The 519 and a book of condolences will be placed in The Centre's lobby for signing beginning on Monday. We have been in touch with Kyle's family and close friends and a community memorial event is being planned. Details will be posted as they become available."

A native of Hamilton, Scanlon was the former executive director of the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line. In taking the position he broke new ground as the first openly transgender man to be the executive director of a queer agency in Canada. He was also a former staff member with Pink Triangle Press, which publishes Xtra and fab magazines and xtra.ca.

In 2009, in The 519's Centre Voices blog, Scanlon wrote, "It takes a village to build community" and reflected on belonging and self-discovery in the village.

Later, he wrote poignantly about his life as a trans man in a bio-sketch for the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

"It's so easy as a transitioning person to think that everything in life is related to transition, to surgeries, to hormones, and to passing. We divide our lives into 'before and after.' We spend all our time telling friends and relatives about why we want to transition, what it was like to transition, and what the differences are between living as men versus women. We're viewed as social experiments, the creations of science and medicine. We're the topics of gossip, and the guests of tacky talk shows. We're objects."

"People easily forget we're human. And we mustn't let them. We must show them, at every opportunity, that we have talents, and dreams, and lives."

More on Kyle Scanlon:

Xtra contributor Katie Toth has written "In Memory of Kyle Scanlon" for This Magazine.

Writer David Demchuk's story "Toronto’s Trans Community Grieves Loss of Kyle Scanlon" is on the Torontoist website.

A Proud Life feature will soon be published on xtra.ca.

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I wish I would have known Kyle...
Mark, I think there is something to what you wrote - the depression and isolation after Pride. Especially if it's your first Pride, you went alone, and it wasn't good. Gay people are terribly rude and indifferent towards each other, we ridicule and reject each other over very juvenile things, and are judged on how many university degrees and $600 sunglasses we have rather than what kind of person, partner or parent we could potentially be. We only care about the gay guys who would 'pass' as a straight college athlete - obviously any gay event, a model like that brings in tons of money - who wants to see what a real gay guy looks like. We've become addicted to internet porn with models that aren't even gay. We hate other gay men and resent each other for not living up to expectations based on a straight college athlete. No WONDER so many of us end our lives. I'm not disrespecting this young man's death, but you know what? We REALLY have to start giving a shit about each other and stop ripping each other apart. We are people who are worth knowing and befriending.

Gay people aren't committing suicide because of bullying from straight people - necessarily. It happens when we did the hard work of coming out, arrived in the village, only to be rejected - once again - by the very people we waited for years to find. Do you know how hard that is? To know that, now my straight 'friends' don't understand who I am, and gay people only care about me if it will somehow benefit them? It's a LONELY life. Most minority groups have a space where they can interact comfortably and support each other. Gay people talk about each other badly, lie to each other, steal from each other...WHY!? Why are we such wonderful friends for straight women and such monsters towards other gay men with the rude comments and rejection and remarks? We need to talk more with each other so we can figure these things out, no judgment. Didn't know Kyle, but I would have listened.
What is Pride all about?
What *is* Pride all about? To about 80% of attendees, it's a party, not much more. To maybe 5% it's about building community. Kyle was into doing that.
I knew Kyle before he transitioned, in fact I discussed with him whether that was a direction he would consider going, just by talking with him about his feelings. I'm a transwoman, and Kyle was a special friend to me. I was fortunate enough to have him be a character reference on my resume, and I may have gained a couple of jobs with his help.
I've been ambivilent about what Pride does for our community for some time. I would hope it would be more about helping people in the queer community be more accepting of each other... not allowing F2Ms in the dyke march is a silly thought - you should be welcoming supportive people in all areas.
Maybe this lack of acceptance is indicative of the struggles we need to get past, and what Kyle had a hard time dealing with. The old song "We are family" strikes me as being very ironic sometimes.
It's sad that he committed suicide only a few days after Pride. I know that many LGBT people get depressed over Pride week - despite the fact that it's supposed to be a week of fun, sex and celebration. It's similar to how many lonely straight people get depressed over the Christmas holidays. I also know that many LGBT people have fun during Pride, but then get depressed afterwards (they say it's like coming down from a high). A good investigative reporter should do a story on whether or not this is common (e.g., interviewing health care professionals who serve LGBT populations).
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