Loyobo And The LGBTQ+ Community:Ongoing Learning

Every year in June, the LGBTQ+ community and allies celebrate Pride Month. This year to celebrate Pride Month, we want to be public, intentional, and explicit about how our Loyobo FIT community is affirming of our LGBTQ+ members and how we’re constantly striving to serve better.

Arch – voices of value training

Earlier in May, I was privileged to be among the couple members of our team who attended the Voices of Value: Working Well With 2SLGBTQ+ Communities Training provided by ARCH.

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I like to think of myself as fairly well-educated on these matters already. After all, I grew up with my gay uncles playing a huge role in my life; I made friends across the LGBTQ+ spectrum; I studied the politics of gender and sexuality in university, and have continued to read and watch widely to remain educated and up-to-date. Yet, even with all that knowledge and experience, there are things that I still need to learn, still need to be reminded of.

I have to acknowledge that I am a cisgender, heterosexual, and heteroromantic White male of Western European descent. I’m basically the height of privilege in our culture—granted, that my experience living with disabilities and living well-under the poverty line for a single adult grant me some experience in the marginalized sections of our society, but I’m marginalized mostly by invisible factors so I still remain incredibly privileged.

The ARCH training encouraged us to listen to the LGBTQ+ community, and to educate ourselves. It broke down the differences between gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexual orientation. It emphasized the need to acknowledge intersectionality, to pay attention to language, and to send clear messages through the people we hire, the behaviours we allow, and the words we speak where we stand on affirmation of the LGBTQ+ community.

I definitely learned of at least one aspect of language I had thought little of, the context behind it, and why it would be good to be more cautious of going forward.

loyobo Fit & the lgbtQ+ Community

One of the things I love about our Loyobo community is that we are committed to being an inclusive, affirming and safe space for all. I know that the entire Loyobo Team is committed to being intentionally affirming of our LGBTQ+ members, and that we will not tolerate any hate or discrimination by members of our team or community towards the LGBTQ+ community.

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I also deeply believe that our anti-diet, body positive, anti-fatphobia approach to encouraging joyful movement and holistic health can make us a place of unique benefit and empowerment to the LGBTQ+ members of our community. Many of our Loyobo team and members know first-hand what it feels like to be at war with our bodies, and with the scripts we’ve been given about how to live our lives; many of us have found great empowerment in learning to come home to, and love our bodies, through the focus of joyful movement. We know that the body positive movement would not exist without the contributions self-identified Black Fat Queer activists like Sonya Renee Taylor, and we owe much to the continued leadership of those with intersecting identities that all too often are exiled to the margins of society.

I firmly believe that joyful movement can help those who are in the LGBTQ+ community who are working towards renewing, restoring, or discovering a relationship with their bodies. Embodiment is a journey that will last a lifetime, and joyful movement is a way to keep that journey going. Our Loyobo family also provides a community to rally around in this life work, that is affirming, safe, and encouraging, as well as support from our team on mindset, self-talk and more.

going forward – together!

What the ARCH training encouraged, and what we have resolved to do, is to continue learning—making sure to constantly evaluate areas we can improve to allow us to truly embody our mission of helping people to love their bodies.

To this end, we wanted to share a few actions we are currently taking to improve this year:

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  • Auditing all of our documents, policies, and such to ensure inclusive and gender neutral language

  • Creating a gender neutral bathroom and changeroom, with the goal of it being up and running when we are able to reopen in Summer 2021

  • Added a space in our customer profiles on MindBody where preferred pronouns can be selected

Continuing to train and educate our team on how to support the LGBTQ+ community, with training to help us be trauma informed, anti-racist and intersectional.

As Pride month continues, you will see a number of our social media posts affirming our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. However, we also want to be clear that our commitment is year round, and not just something we showcase for a month.

If you are a member of our Loyobo Family, know that you can always let us know if we are falling short or if something needs to be changed. If you are a identify as LGBTQ+, we promise to be a safe space for you to experience the joy of movement, to learn how to love your body, and feel good in your skin. We promise that we will fight for your body to be seen as worthy, valuable, and deserving of respect – both inside and outside our studio. We promise that our team and our community will welcome you wholeheartedly, affirm you as you are, and where your gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation will be embraced and celebrated.

We see you and we truly believe you are awesome.

Happy Pride!

-Devin Hogg
Experience Coordinator and Success Coach

Want to find out more? check out these resources below!

Find out more about ARCH!
Check out the Voices of Value Toolkit and educate yourself and your organization today!
Like and follow Guelph Pride on Facebook today!
Visit Sonya Renee Taylor’s website here!