Celebrating gender identities with Chris Bergeron
Last week, Chris Bergeron, Vice President of Inclusive Creativity at Cossette, gave this beautiful and emotional speech at the Musée de la civilisation, during an event organized as part of the exhibition “Love Me Gender,” presented by TD. With this exhibition, the Musée seeks to play a role in these important discussions by demystifying and celebrating the plurality of gender identities.
Bergeron explored how the shadows covering our shining queer and trans communities are impacting the way we recognize ourselves in the world. We look at places and see that they have been taken from us, while we end up with less and less space and support for our existence. Despite all the current challenges our communities face, Bergeron reminded us about our wisdom to overcome persecution and discrimination and support each other. Our beauty is shown in how we engage with each other, find (chosen) family support, respect ourselves, create spaces for youth and others to flourish, and, more than ever, love.
Chris Bergeron on stage at the Musée de la civilisation
in Quebec City on December 6, 2023.
This event was created with the support of La Fondation Émergence, Le Conseil québécois LGBT, Réseau des lesbiennes du Québec (RLQ), LSTW, Interligne, Alliance Arc-en-ciel de Québec, Fierté Montréal, ENSEMBLE pour le respect de la diversité, and Le Réseau interentreprises LGBTQ+.
You can read Chris Bergeron’s full speech below:
Good evening, everyone,
What a pleasure to see you all here. It’s like being with family. It feels good.
I say “feels good” because I have the impression that a noose is tightening around the necks of queer communities.
Indeed, there’s less and less love for us in the United States, in England, in Italy, and even closer to home: in Saskatchewan, in New Brunswick. There’s less and less love for us in the pages of our newspapers, or online. We no longer recognize ourselves in the words of our politicians.
How far we are from the years 2000-2020. That little moment in history when the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ people were progressing inexorably around the globe. We were becoming valid. It was great to see.
But today, it seems like we are just too much. And some people regret inviting us to their party.
We are told, “it’s getting too complicated to keep up with you, what with all your acronyms”.
We are told, “You’re asking for too much: rights AND washrooms”.
We’re told, “You’re questioning the very foundations of our society. “
We’re told, “You’re against nature. You’re against science, or biology, or religion.”
And worse: “You are indoctrinating our children”.
We’ve become such a thorny issue that politicians talk about putting together commissions and councils of wise men and women to discuss “our case”. The presumption is that these people will be wiser than us, of course. The adults will talk amongst themselves. As if we were children.
Yet to question the wisdom of a community is to infantilize it, and to infantilize it is to marginalize it.
It’s funny: everything is worth more in our inflation-ridden society, except queer speech.
And yet our words are beautiful, and yet we too have our wise folks.
I dream of a world where our wisdom is listened to. Imagine what our detractors could learn from us.
First: the importance of family, the family we have and the family we’re building. We’re family people, we know how to stick together. If we didn’t help each other, we’d all still be stuck in our closets.
Then there’s respect for young people. It’s amazing that we’re accused of trying to corrupt young people when we’ve often been robbed of our own childhood.Too often we’ve been forced to live in hiding. We say “never again”, while our opponents say “more of the same”.
Finally: we understand what it means to love others. It’s by loving that we learn to love ourselves. But we still must have the right to be loved as we are. We have taught the people around us the art of loving ourselves. At the same time, we have learned to love. Indeed, those who hate us look very weak compared to the strength of our love.
It’s all about love, isn’t it? Love isn’t a safe bet in our society, love doesn’t sit on the councils of ministers or the boards of directors of companies, and love isn’t quoted on the stock exchange. It isn’t even measurable. Perhaps that’s why we’re so often seen as a nuisance.
We mess up the best-laid plans of those who have forgotten love in their calculations.
So much the better,
We will continue to love ourselves and each other. No matter what.
Chris Bergeron, Vice President of Inclusive Creativity at Cossette
For almost 40 years, Chris Bergeron has lived the life of a heterosexual man. From very early in her career, she had great professional success: after having been a collaborator for major media such as La Presse and Radio-Canada, Chris directed for the newspaper VOIR for five years, which was the largest network of weekly cultural magazines in Quebec at the time. She then made the leap to the advertising world where she held the position of creative director for major agencies. Then, she came out and started living true life as a trans woman. Suddenly being propelled into the reality of a visible sexual minority has profoundly transformed her perception of the world. In Quebec and internationally, Chris advocates for diversity, inclusion and the rights of trans people by sharing her story to the public. She frequently intervenes in the advertising industry to demand better representation of minorities. At Cossette, she leads a multidisciplinary team of strategists, community managers and multiplatform content creators. She is also part of the creativity collective that strives to push the boundaries of the agency’s creative branch at their Montreal office. Thanks to her creative and strategic outlook, she amplifies the digital potential of Cossette’s clients. Her portfolio includes several major brands, including McDonald’s Canada, Destination Canada, the Quebec Tourism Industry Alliance, Tourisme Montréal, Loto-Québec, SAQ, L’Oréal, BDC, VIA Rail and Liberté.