Members of the LGBTQ community in New Brunswick are fundraising to give back to a trans and queer activists in need.
An event called A Little Help for a Friend was hosted at Read’s Cafe in Fredericton on April 3 to raise money for Gloria Dawn Halvorsen. The coffee house consisted of musical performances and was organized by local queer academics and activists AJ Ripley, Amber Marie, Reid Lodge and Indigo Poirier, among others.
Halvorsen is a musician and activist who has been making strides for the trans and queer community since she began her transition in 2014, at the age of 53.
“Gloria is a cancer survivor and recently has had some unforeseen health complications that lead to her being in the hospital for an extended period of time,” said Ripley, a professor at St. Thomas University.
“Compounded with that, Gloria has faced challenges as a trans woman accessing gainful employment in Saint John. So right now Gloria is a bit behind on bills and doing everything in her power to try to rectify that situation.”
Halverson’s situation is not uncommon.
The Canadian Trans Pulse Survey found the average income of transgender folks was $15,000 per year. About 13 per cent were fired for being trans, while another 15 per cent were fired and believed it might be because they are trans. Another 18 per cent who were turned down for a job because they are trans and 32 per cent suspected this was why they weren’t chosen. Additionally, 17 per cent declined a job they had applied for and were actually offered because of the lack of a trans-positive and safe work environment.
For the LGBTQ community in N.B., Halvorsen is not just a statistic. She is a leader and dear friend.
Event organizers emphasized their admiration of Halvorsen before performing.
“She is a loving family member and friend, a caring neighbour, a talented musician and a proud New Brunswick community member. She has dedicated her time and energy to helping marginalized folks through her advocacy and activism as well as reaching out to her neighbours in need of a helping hand. The world, but especially New Brunswick, is a better place because of the light that Gloria’s energy offers all those around her.”
The coffee house had a silent auction consisting of donated items and local arts and crafts. With the profits from the auction and the donation jar organizers were able to raise just under $1,200 for Halvorsen. Besides the coffee houses held in Saint John and Fredericton, there is an ongoing You Caring campaign in support of Halvorsen.
Although Halvorsen was not able to travel from Saint John to attend the event, she sent her appreciation via a message to Ripley.
“Thank you everyone for all the love you’ve shown me. I truly feel it and I’m deeply moved. When life gets scary and the chips are down the silver lining is that you get to see how many people will actually care about you. I’m a little teary-eyed right now from the love that keeps coming my way. Thank you all so much. You are light in the sometimes dark world. Much love, Gloria.”