National Volunteer Week – How Wilbur Turner is uplifting voices of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, at Rogers and beyond
When we lead with compassion, we can accomplish incredible things.
When Wilbur Turner, Customer Solution Consultant came out as gay after turning 40 years old, he felt a calling to uplift and support the community he had admired from a distance for so long.
Today, as part of National Volunteer Week, we sat down with Wilbur to learn more about how he’s become a leader in the LGBTQ2S+ community, here at Rogers and beyond.
You created advocacy-canada.lgbtq, a non-profit organization committed to unifying and amplifying 2S-LGBTQIA+ community voices on important social and political advocacy issues. Tell us why creating this organization was so important to you and your community.
I came out as gay just before turning 40. I was aware of the many challenges the 2SLGBTQ+ community faced and over the years I have taken on roles in the community that I felt would make a difference. When the so-called conversion therapy debate was happening it became apparent that strong voices were needed to ensure the criminal code was amended to help put a stop to these harmful practices.
advocacy-canada.lgbt was formed in part to address this need. When I came out I experienced conversion efforts from those whom I trusted and it left me with health issues that took years to heal from. Our next area of focus is on providing support to 2SLGBTQ+ seniors. We have formed the Kelowna Senior Pride Network which will open up networking opportunities and support this growing demographic in the Central Okanagan. We are also embarking on a feasibility study on creating supportive, safe, and welcoming housing for 2SLGBTQ+ seniors.
Throughout the years, you’ve achieved incredible milestones in your advocacy work. What’s been your greatest moment of pride?
Helping to form Etcetera in Kelowna, a support group for 2SLGBTQ+ youth. Over the years hundreds of youth have been able to take advantage of and participate in activities that promote self-worth and belonging. This group is now operated by a registered charitable organization, The Bridge Youth and Family Services.
You were recently awarded a Ted Rogers Humanitarian Award for your efforts. What does this award mean to you and how do you hope to inspire others to give back to their communities, in whatever way that may be?
This award is significant to me in that it raises awareness of the advocacy work that I have been doing and its significant impact on the community. My message to others is that giving back to our communities can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling. It is not just from the recognition and acknowledgment, but in the heartwarming stories from those who have benefited from the work.