It’s All Queer Pride
Funded in 2020, It's All Queer Pride is a two-part performance program that seeks to equip LGBTQIAP+ participants with the skills for act-development and career development as solo performers. The project's goal was to enable participants to discover, develop, and launch themselves as artists, which was made possible by support and mentorship from experienced facilitators.
Participants were led by lead facilitator and program creator, Tyler J Sloane, alongside 12 guest facilitators, all active performers within the Toronto LGBTQIA+ community. Guest facilitators offered both mentorship based on a skill-set they specialize in (burlesque, drag,consent culture, production, make-up, costuming, wigs, and the weaving skill needed to build performances), as well as the history and knowledge of how it presently sits within the Toronto queer community. On top of tangible artistic skill-building, participants were also able to develop the skills essential to marketing themselves as artists, such as building their performance arts practice, honing their craftsmanship, and establishing their place within the community.
It’s All Queer Pride offered two different workshop streams: It’s ALL A DRAG saw participants with little to no performance experience learn to develop themselves as performers (creating their alter ego, identity, and act), while the second stream, It’s All Essentials, gave more experienced participants a chance to continue their journey and take the next step in their career development. Having two workshop streams ensured that interested youth, regardless of experience level, were given the opportunity to participate.
When referencing the importance of a project like this for the community, Ty notes that, “in my facilitation and mentorship of 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, I consistently hear that [community members] are seeking an opportunity where they can engage in exploring their identity through either gender or performance, but feel barriers from existing venues, access to artist mentors, and financial costs”. In that, Ty aimed to create a safe, free, accesible, transformative justice and Indigenous-informed space within the program where marginalized youth could connect and gain valuable skills that support them to
further engage in the Queer and performance communities
Due to COVID restrictions, the program was adapted from an in-person series to a virtual one, which understandably came with its fair share of challenges. Despite this, Ty made sure that the program ran smoothly, and most importantly, that participants were still able to gain valuable artistic and professional skills and take part in a final showcase to highlight their learnings. The two final showcases saw over 125 community members in virtual attendance to support participants and watch a fantastic show.
When reflecting on working through such difficult times, Ty mentioned that, “through the pandemic, energy and mental health was an overarching challenge” but through approaching everything with compassion and mindful accommodations, the program was still able to run successfully.
Tyler J Sloane is a Two-Spirit, Non-Binary, Anishinaabe/ Chinese/ Greek/ Irish, multidisciplinary artist, curator, producer, and facilitator that aims to emphasize marginalized voices that intersect: race, fluid sexualities, trans, non-binary and fluid gender expressions, non-monogamous relationships, and class.
They perform as both Tyler J Sloane and under their Burlesque stage name, Tygr Willy, and have both curated and performed in countless shows within the 2SLGBTQIA+ arts scene. In addition to performance arts, Ty has also successfully explored various disciplines including photography, visual arts, poetry, theatre, acting, writing, and directing.
Ty has worked with various community arts organizations, including SKETCH, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Pride Toronto, Paprika Festival, and Cahoots Theatre Company, among others, and is currently the Education Coordinator at Elevate Equity.
Follow @tylerjsloane on Instagram to stay up to date on all their latest programs and showcases!