Vancouver Pride Spotlight: Meet Indigenous two-spirit DJ Orene Askew

Aug 1 2020, 12:03 am

As Vancouver Virtual Pride celebrations get underway, we’re spotlighting and celebrating local QTBIPOC (Queer/Trans/Two-Spirit who are also Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) creators, artists, and changemakers in the community whose work is rooted in advocating for inclusivity, diversity, and justice.

This week we catch up with DJ O Show aka Orene Askew.

Aside from DJing, Askew is an inspirational speaker and one of the youngest members of the Squamish Nation council ever elected.

Askew is the recipient of a Vancouver Pride standout award and was one of the Pride Parade Grand Marshals last year. Askew is currently hosting a weekly show on our channels called “The O Show,” playing live music every Thursday Night.

What does Pride week in Vancouver mean to you?

To me, Pride is a time to celebrate who the LGBTQ2+ community really is all month long. It’s a time to share the pure joy on our faces and encourage other folks to have the courage to celebrate who they are as well. Though I carry this pride all throughout the year, it is intensified tenfold during Pride. I feel very lucky to live on the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish (my people), and Tsleil-Waututh people, in the city we call Vancouver, where I can not only be free to be myself, but also be celebrated for who I am.

What does intersectionality mean to you and why is it important — especially when it comes to LGBTQ community and celebrating Pride?

I think it’s important to acknowledge intersectionality because the struggles of intersectional folks are different — and harder. I speak from a place of personal experience; I am Afro-Indigenous and two-spirited. I walk through this world with three intersecting identities, all of which are from marginalized communities. It can be a struggle for me sometimes to make sure all of those identities are balanced and celebrated equally. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t and that is okay. I think Pride is a time to celebrate, hold up, and cheer on intersectional people.

QTBIPOC voices and changemakers have always been at the front of leading movements and social change for the LGBTQ community… in what ways have these changemakers inspired you as someone who is BIPOC?

Marsha P Johnson was QTBIPOC and one of the main reasons why Pride exists today. If it weren’t for her attitude, commitment, and resistance, we wouldn’t even be here. She, a beautiful Black trans woman, has inspired me to continue her fight for equal rights. We aren’t asking for more rights than others; we are asking for equal rights, just like her. We are on our way, but there is so much work that needs to be done.

In what ways do you feel the LGBTQ community here in Vancouver needs to make more space for QTBIPOC members of the community? What kind of allyship work needs to be done?

I think the LGBTQ community needs to listen to QTBIPOC people and believe us when we say things like systemic racism exists in certain organizations in this city. It’s all about un-learning what colonization has taught us. It’s going to take a lot of work, but we need allies to stand with us and speak up against racism, homophobia, and transphobia, just like we do. QTBIPOC people are the only ones in a position to say whether or not something is racist. We were born into it and have experienced it for centuries, so please stop questioning and just believe us.

How will you be taking part in Vancouver Pride online events this year?

This year, the Vancouver Pride Society has graciously given me my own virtual DJ show called “The O Show.” I perform live every Thursday night at 6:30 pm on their Facebook page and YouTube Channel. I’ve been doing it for the past four weeks as a build-up to Pride, and it’s been so much fun! I’m trying to get them to give me the show for the rest of my life, but we’ll see!

Daily Hive is a proud media partner of the Vancouver Pride Society

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