Get Real: Fighting Homophobia Through Advocacy in Conversation with Courtney Allain
In a fight against homophobia, transphobia, and racism, stands Get REAL, a Canadian non-profit which is focused on combatting against 2SLGBTQ+ discrimination, racism, and bullying. What began as a small student project in 2011 has turned into a national organization, running events and workshops designed to educate youth, parents, and workplaces on inclusivity and leadership development.
Get REAL has also released a short film called The Clinic, bringing light to the treatment transgender and 2SLGBTQ+ folks face from medical professionals. Undiagnosed health issues is a common theme the community face and the film aims to educate on these harmful effects the discrimination can have. 45% of transgender and non-binary people have had an unmet health care need in the past year.
Get REAL’s chapter and events manager Courtney Allain, speaks to us about her personal experience and challenges in her fight for equality. Courtney joined the organization in 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, wanting to take a larger and more impactful part of helping the community. Since they have started, GetREAL has spoken to nearly 1 million youth across the country, directly teaching them new perspectives on inclusivity and advocacy.
Over the years Courtney says there has been a positive shift of attitudes regarding homophobia and transphobia. However, there are many societies where attitudes haven’t changed and it’s unsafe for people in the community.
This raises the question; what can we do in our local communities to help? While standing against homophobia is a daunting and seemingly impossible task, Courtney says we should start taking ownership of our own spaces. “Starting locally, in our homes, in our friend groups, if we all do that, that’s the world.” Being vocal on social media and actively recognizing and participating in activism is a move towards the right direction for members of the community and allies alike.
When asked about what business students can do for the community, Courtney encourages young people to “shake things up” and make a difference in the corporate world. As students in a pivotal position to create and push for change, choosing companies who truly stand for inclusivity rather than performative activism can be a small step everyone can take. Doing research on firms to know what they stand for and who they support before making decisions.
For students looking to start a career in the non-profit sector, Courtney stresses the importance of “just starting”. Instead of waiting around for the perfect organization, beginning now and sharing ideas is the most important step. She advises students to find something they are passionate about and use skills that they are learning to push for that change.
For those who are struggling with their identities or want a safe space to talk, Get REAL provides free and accessible resources on their website, ranging from virtual counselling and positive space groups to informational videos on safe binding.