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Dear Hollaback! Community,
I am reaching out today with the heaviest of hearts. The tragedy in Orlando was one of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States. It took place on Latinx night at the Pulse, and those we lost were mostly LGBTQ, mostly people of color.
We want to be clear: this was not just an act of terror, it was also a hate crime. It was, at its root, a product of homophobic, racist, and transphobic culture that we live in.
It’s a culture of hate that we perpetuate everyday when we support laws against gender-inclusive bathrooms, normalize street harassment, and allow gay teens to be bullied in plain sight. When we refuse to stand up against the daily violence that LGBTQ people face just for being who they are, we create a culture where events like Orlando become inevitable.
The horrific events in Orlando bring to the forefront our own experiences of harassment and violence as LGBTQ folks. It can feel like a scab ripping off; it is a wound that never really has a chance to heal.
This week, as we heal, reflect, and care for one another — let’s also take this opportunity to turn our pain into power. Join us in sharing your experiences with hate, harassment, or violence towards the LGBTQ community with the hashtag #thehatewefaceiseveryday.
Your story could be something that small — like a hateful joke, or a passing comment. Or it could be something much harder — like harassment, intimidation, stalking, or assault. Whatever it is, we’re listening. If you would prefer to be anonymous, you can share your story on our site, or through our free app.
As we process this tragedy, our pain runs deep. As we do the critical work of standing up against Islamophobia and fighting for better policies — we too need to do the work of caring for ourselves, and giving our pain space to breathe.
Sharing your story is an act of self-care, and in times like these, it is an act of survival. We need to show people what’s wrong so they can see what’s possible.
with love and warmth,
Co-Founder and Executive Director
We stand in solidarity with Lucy DeCoutere, Linda Redgrave, and others who have bravely shared their stories. We stand with Kathryn Borel, Reva Seth, Zoe Kazan, and anyone else who has reported harassment or assault.
This trial offered highly visible examples of injustice, but we recognize that there are many stories going unheard. Stereotypes and snap judgements privilege more powerful voices over others. Many do not feel safe or supported accessing institutions that claim to offer justice, particularly when facing discrimination based on race, ethnicity, poverty, ableism, and/or gender identity and expression. Many have reason to distrust and fear the police, the law, and the courts. These stories are no less true than the few that recently made headlines.
We understand that narratives are influenced by trauma, time, and memory. Too often, people are asked to push their own needs aside and ignore abusive behaviour for the sake of harmony. Insisting on automatic, linear storytelling ignores the realities of lived experience, and further prioritizes the stories of people who have access to traditional power structures and institutions. We believe in your process, whatever that might look like for you.
We know you’re out there. You believe. You remember. You find kindred spirits. You build networks. You share stories and skills. You open doors. You encourage resistance, resilience and persistence. You’re building a better world, one person at a time.
Not everyone is a survivor. We acknowledge the lives that have been lost because of this violence.
You don’t have to share your story with us, and you don’t have to give us your reasons, but we’ll hold space for you to breathe. We see you. We hear you. We’re so glad you’re still here.
Last summer, it was a very hot day and my brother dropped me off at the Riverview Park and Ride so that I could get to work. I was wearing a short summer dress (not that that REALLY matters) and saw that I was going to have to run to my bus if I was going to make it in time. As I ran across the parking lot to my bus, an ‘Out of Service’ bus drove by and the driver flung open the front doors and yelled, “Yeah, Baby!!!”
The driver of the bus that I was boarding just gave me a weird look and said, “Uhhhhh what was that…?”. I wish I hadn’t been caught so off guard because I could have totally bitched the driver out, taken photos, and got his ass fired. Instead I got on the bus feeling shocked and humiliated – I’d always seen street harassment as a problem, but experiencing it is a whole other ballgame!
It made me realize lots of things about rape culture – even the people in authority who we are supposed to report bus harassment to can be perpetrators themselves. My own father rolled his eyes when I told him that I filed a complaint with OC Transpo. My boyfriend doesn’t understand why those kinds of comments are not compliments no matter what I say.
I’m thankful for Hollaback! and Hollaback! Ottawa for giving victims a channel to validate their harassment experiences. It honestly terrifies me how common it is.
I had just come out of a job interview, I was less than a minute down the road when some guy hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride hollered at me. He made kissing noises and called me “Bella”. I flipped him the bird as they drove away. I didn’t really see who it was, just some guy in a red car.
It’s International Anti-Street Harassment Week and we’ve got two stellar events lined up for you!
Join us April 15th for a fun, engaging and informative night of talking street harassment and intersectionality. We’ll have a super talented panel of local folks talking about their experiences of harassment and we’ll chat about ways we can create communities of accountability and support in Ottawa.
We also have the first Chalk Walk of the year lined up! Woo!
April 17th. 3pm. Human Rights Monument (Elgin near City Hall)
RSVP on Facebook
A reminder that green beers are no excuse to be creepy to women.
Party hard today, if that’s your jam, but don’t harass women in the pubs or in the streets. We all deserve a safe night of celebrating.
We’ll be hosting a panel on street harassment and intersectionality (April 15th), a dance party (evening of April 15th) and a Chalk Walk (April 17th).
Mark your calendars & join the Facebook event page to get all the details!
On my way to work in the morning I was waiting for the light to change so I could cross the road when I was surrounded by 2 men who were obviously intoxicated who repeatedly asked me to go out with them because I “looked fun” while referring to me as “baby” and “sweetheart.” I kept trying to back away but they pursued me until I finally had to cross in front of moving traffic to get away.