When LeZlie Lee Kam came out, she wasn’t sure where to turn.
“I had to go to the library to find out anything about what it meant to be lesbian,” the 64-year-old says, whispering the word lesbian to underscore how covert she had to be at the time.
While a student at York University in the ’70s, Kam started a relationship with another woman, keeping it a secret for three years. But eventually, her girlfriend’s family found out and sent her back to Trinidad, which is where Kam is also originally from.
This spurred her to seek out like-minded people, which led her to an LGBTQ organization at York and to the Lesbian Organization of Toronto. There, she became a peer counsellor on the phone helpline.
Society has made advances in the decades since, but as a longtime community organizer, Kam continues to campaign for change: she now advocates for fellow LGBTQ seniors and their right to health care, social services, and housing.