Full Name: Breezy Diabo

Company: Independent Artist

Social Media Handle(s) IG: @little.moon.fae

How do you feel about the representation of the LGBTQ community in Cannabis/CBD?

As an artist that lives in New York City, uses cannabis and CBD,medicinally, I would say there are still many marketing opportunities for companies to explore on a grand scheme as well as in the LGBTQ community. While some may feel the representation of cannabis/CBD jumps on the capital of Pride month, I would argue the opposite spectrum and would love to see even more representation of the community which helped to legalize cannabis. Dennis Peron (essentially the godfather of the legalization movement), was an openly gay man that well before the Aids epidemic, fought for the legalization of cannabis. When the disease began to demolish the gay community, Peron opened a Cannabis Buyer’s Club, where an individual with AIDS or other illnesses could purchase cannabis to help mitigate pain, nausea, headaches and wasting syndrome. As a result, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was a major factor in legalizing the drug for medicinal use (Check out Memoirs of Dennis Peron: How a gay hippy outlaw legalized marijuana in response to the AIDS crisis). In addition, the LGBTQ community has a higher rate of cannabis use compared to heterosexuals. The higher rates of cannabis possibly coexist with the higher rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and homelessness, that many LGBTQ people experience due to marginalization, oppression and fear. Having discussions about CBD/cannabis use on a daily basis vs. just Pride month and to be able to openly converse about its benefits besides the psychedelic aspect of it is viable. The LGBTQ community is smart enough to know when someone is piggybacking on a movement solely for profit, I wish smaller brands that aligned with health, education and the community would use more LGBTQ representation.

What are some of your inspirations when it comes to advocacy?

I am a history nerd and I love to read. Biographies are some of my favorites to sit and read outside on a nice day. I am currently reading We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation, by Mathew Riemer & Leighton Brown. I love a great documentary or films about activists and movements that are not biased, but really look at the facts. Social media is an amazing platform to get inspired and stay informed, especially during this time with two pandemics on our hands in the USA (Covid-19 and racism). I discover new information everyday due to Instagram and Twitter, I feel so lucky to have those platforms today.

When it comes to advocates that personally inspire me: Harvey Milk, The fab 5, Lena Waithe, Edith Windsor, Marsha P. Johnson, the artists I create content with, friends who are also advocates inspire me everyday. Never stop investigating, stay curious and learn all you can in life.

When did you start getting involved and with what organizations?

Growing up my family was very progressive. My grandmother is from Brooklyn, she always taught me to treat everyone with kindness and instilled a sense of empathy in me at an early age. She was friends with everyone regardless of race, gender, sexuality, so for me if someone was “different” I either did not notice or found myself drawn to that individual and their lifestyle. From my mother I learned hard work and to fight for what I believe in. Both women in my life are extremely intellectual. I grew up with art, poetry and books that filled my mind with a great imagination and a voice that’s pretty hard to shut up.

When it comes to the injustice of others I literally don’t know how to stay silent. As a multicultural Jewish pansexual woman, I have a lot to fight for and a lot of communities to fight for. I went to Pow wows as a child, different women’s marches and community meetings. I was in the Gay Straight alliance in middle school and high school. When I realized I had opened my mind to loving whoever regardless of body parts, my senior year in college, I became heavily involved in the LGBTQ community where I went to school (Savannah, GA). At 21, I dove head first into getting involved and volunteering in whichever city I was living in at the time.

Currently I am involved in: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival, The Trevor Project and the NYC Tri-State Area Bisexual + SGL Queer organization.

How can new advocates get more involved?

When I was younger I went to the LGBTQ centers and got involved that way. The centers are free and are a great way to find out about our community’s history/what we still face today. The people you get to meet, connect with and learn from are hard to beat. Social media has become another fantastic source to find new information to educate yourself, find protests, marches, petitions, panels and like minded people who want to bring about change. With Covid-19 going on still, going online is essential. Zoom and Netflix parties are great ways to watch documentaries, then have discussions with friends or family. I encourage new advocates to buy novels and see films that aren’t just about the history of this beautiful community, but that show real relationships, everyday interactions. Being in the LGBTQ community is not a novel idea, but it is a way of life, it’s real and things are happening everywhere/everyday; the good and the bad.

What areas do you think our communities can improve in?

It all starts at home, the way our communities change is within ourselves and within our homes. To educate yourself, family, friends and have those hard, uncomfortable conversations. Be loud, be proud! Remember we are the LGBTQ community. We cannot have pride for some without liberation for all of us!!!

Read about our history, talk to generations before us and their accounts of the history we see in our books.

Remember even when you think you know something, you can always learn more.

Full Name: Kait Caridi

Company: Women Grow @womengrow, CannaWare Society @cannawaresociety & Proud Mary @proudmarynetwork

Social Media Handle(s) IG: @kayejayecee / @nyccannadivas

How do you feel about the representation of the LGBT community in Cannabis/CBD? 

I’ve seen a lot of cannabis brands switch up their logos during Pride month but I feel as though it may be another marketing scheme. Unfortunately,

I haven’t seen many provide a platform for queers in cannabis besides Proud Mary Network. Proud Mary was founded by a friend of mine, Brie Brewer. They elevate queer voices in cannabis through education, networking and advocacy.

Who are some of your inspirations when it comes to advocacy?

Kassia Graham of Cannaclusive, Tsehaitu Abye of Black Dragon Breakfast Club and Natasha Przedborski of PussyWeed are three individuals that come to mind when I think of advocacy. Although the list of people actually doing the work is slim in terms of advocacy, I feel like the East Coast has a solid bunch. These girls provide needed resources, constantly uplift and educate their targeted communities while teaching us how to be better allies!

Plus these ladies are BAD ASS!

When did you start getting involved & with what organizations?

I attended my first Women Grow event in 2017, I was so inspired by all the forward thinking women in the room and started volunteering at my second event. I currently work with Women Grow; as well as CannaWare Society and Proud Mary.

How can new advocates get more involved?

Showing up! I started working in the cannabis industry by merely attending networking events! Building connections with fellow entrepreneurs and engaging with professionals in the space has gotten me far.

What areas do you think our communities can improve in?

Inclusivity. I have yet to see a Trans keynote speaker at a cannabis event. In the wake of events during the year thus far, we have seen that representation is SO important. We must not forget that this industry is such a baby. We have to nurture it and make it what we want. Change starts with us. There’s much work to be done. Let’s get to it!

Full Name: Aidan McGovern

Company: Spleef @spleef_nyc_ & Independent Artist

Social Media Handle(s) IG: @platinumtwink

How do you feel about the representation of the LGBT community in Cannabis/CBD?

That’s a great question! In my experience, the Cannabis community has been very inclusive and open to the LGBTQ+ community. Cis white men are typically the minority at a lot of cannabis events I have attended – the majority of the crowd being super diverse and queer. I think cannabis opens people up, providing an open mind free of judgment and systemic homophobia.

I can definitely say that I feel much more comfortable and loved when I attend cannabis events than when I go to the bars or clubs.

Who are some of your inspirations when it comes to advocacy?

Lady Gaga, Madonna, Angela Davis, Marsha P. Johnson, Elton John and Laverne Cox, just to name a few!

When did you start getting involved & with what organizations?

I’ve always had a tendency to call out bullshit – it started in high school when I led my school’s “Students Helping Students” club at the Garden City High School. I would go to the middle school, sing songs that I wrote about respect and awareness to younger kids. Our town was a typical white republican, predominantly Christian community so people like me stood out – I was always bullied for being queer – even before I came out and by the time I was in my early teens I was sick of it. I definitely didn’t want these younger kids treating others the way I was treated. In college, I witnessed the Trump election, I became a lot more politically active – attending protests and getting involved online. I lost a lot of friends who supported Trump/Pence and met new friends, cooler people who built me up – supported me wholeheartedly and loved me. Some organizations that I have gotten involved with are: The Human Rights CampaignChange.org, The Trevor Project, GLAAD, Amnesty International and many more.

How can new advocates get more involved?

It’s so easy: LISTEN to your peers, LEARN from their experiences, SPEAK UP about queer rights and STAND UP for people that need your help (like black trans women in our current reality). There is no right way to get involved, just getting involved is key. Sometimes it takes straight cis voices to amplify those of queer people. We all just need to fight for love, educate ourselves and make sure we are considering everyone in the LGBTQ community when we fight for justice.

What areas do you think our communities can improve in?

Awareness and inclusion of trans people. Sure, acceptance is the first step, but the cannabis community needs to work like a family to protect each other. It is not just about accepting people for who they are, but also actively fighting to protect their safety and well being. We all can agree that cannabis and CBD bring us together, but what will keep the bond strong is the love and support that we provide for one another. Cannabis event companies should advertise their events as safe-spaces and actively engage in the conversations surrounding LGBTQ advocacy.