JAG expands to include the whole Montérégie – The Gleaner

Original article: https://the-gleaner.com/jag-expands-to-include-the-whole-monteregie/

by Callan Forrester

With Pride Month in full swing, it’s important to recognize local organizations that are working hard to make the region more inclusive and aware of its LGBTQ2SIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two-Spirit, intersex, asexual, plus) members in the community. JAG (Jeunes Adultes Gays) has recently expanded to include the entire Montérégie and is advocating for queer people across the MRC.

JAG is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Raphael Provost, current general manager of JAG, explains the origins of this organization: “People from the LGBT+ community didn’t really find resources for themselves in their region.” Originally, JAG was just working out of Saint-Hyacinthe; but in 2020, it started its expansion process. “The government of Quebec gave us a new mandate to become the LGBTQ+ reference for all of the Montérégie. From Ormstown to Sorel to the Dix30, Saint-Jean, Saint-Hyacinthe, and Vaudreuil,” he says. What was originally a three-employee operation now works with 13.

The presence of an organization like this is of huge importance for queer youth. “People have been waiting for us. Not necessarily JAG, but an organization like us,” says Provost. JAG is always around to listen the needs of queer people of all ages in the community. “What JAG does is raise awareness… We go into elementary schools, high schools, companies, organizations. We have training and workshops to raise awareness and better understand the acronym and the diversity, how it applies to life, and the realities we face.”

One of Provost’s and JAG’s goals is to encourage the inclusion of queer people in decision-making and development of companies because they are so often forgotten. They are currently a part of seven community development corporations (CDCs) and 30 consultation tables to help promote this message.
Provost says he believes that one of the biggest challenges facing queer youth today is communication.

There is a disconnect between young queer people and the older generations: “[Young people] move quickly. They’ve been exposed to diversity on social media. …But there are prejudices that are still around in 2022.” Social media has helped in so many ways, but it moves much more quickly than people do.

That being said, Provost is impressed with the progress that has been made. “I’m 29 and when I was in high school, I could never imagine having an LGBT committee. A few weeks ago, I went to Huntingdon and there was a committee; Pride in the streets.” This can unfortunately still be shocking to people of older generations (and younger generations as well). To Provost, we must keep moving towards better communication. “We have to find the right language, and I don’t think we’re there yet.”

From July 13-15, JAG will be hosting events for the formal opening of its Valleyfield branch (services are currently available in Valleyfield, but its official opening is July 13). This will be a grand event with music, drag, and all kinds of entertainment. The future of JAG will be to do incredible work making more and more safe spaces for queer people.

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