Chapter 2: How discrimination and oppression can impact grief

How differences can affect grief

The advocate says
Chris Little-Gagné, 2SLGBTQ+ advocate and activist, speaks about recognizing and exploring our own biases and prejudices.(3:22)Video transcript
Heather McCain, educator and advocate, explains that while there may be support for single indentities, there is not for interesecting ones.(3:22)Video transcript

Anyone can say that they’re accepting and open and still not know a damn thing about what happens for 2SLGBTQ+ people or how to provide appropriate support for our grief.

Although I experienced a lot of grief in a short period, I never really talked to anyone about it. I used drugs to bury my hurt deep, and I continue to do so to this day.

Although all grief shares some common elements, even within 2SLGBTQ+ communities there can be variations due to each person’s personality, experience, and supports. Your losses may include deaths, relationships, or something else that you value. Your experiences of


Homophobia refers a dislike of, prejudice against, and negative attitudes toward homosexual people or homosexuality.



Biphobia refers to a dislike of, prejudice against, and negative attitudes toward bisexual people or bisexuality.



Transphobia refers to dislike of, prejudice against, and negative attitudes toward trans people or transsexuality. This includes fear, hatred, disbelief, or mistrust of people who are transgender, thought to be transgender, or whose gender expression doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles .

may be interwoven with


Racism refers to prejudiced attitudes, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.



Ageism refers to stereotyping and/or discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age.



Ableism refers to beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities.



Misogyny refers to hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women.

, or other forms of discrimination such as those based on class, religion, or relationship status. You may have experienced violence or rejection. Each experience influences the way you grieve and live with your losses.

These differences can mean that some people – not only heterosexual people, but also other 2SLGBTQ+ people – don’t share or understand your grief. For example, if you are a racialized trans woman of colour, your experiences will differ in important ways from those of a white cis gay man. 

Click the boxes below to see some examples.

If you are an Indigenous person that identifies as 2SLGBTQ+, your grief will likely be interwoven with the collective grief stemming from the colonial oppression of Indigenous Peoples.

If you lived through the AIDS epidemic that started in the 1980s, your grief will likely include multiple deaths of friends and/or partners, or family members. This may mean the ongoing loss of your community of peers or companions.

If you grew up in a faith-based community that provided you with meaningful traditions and practices that are no longer available to you (e.g., as an openly gay man grieving the death of your husband or partner), you may also be grieving a loss of community or support.

If you are struggling with mental health challenges, these can interfere with how you cope with grief; in turn, your grief can negatively impact your mental health, particularly if you don’t have good support.

What may help

  • Recognize and acknowledge the many ways that different experiences affect grief, both your own and that of other 2SLGBTQ+ people.
  • Reach out for support from friends, a peer support group, or a professional counsellor who has experience working with 2SLGBTQ+ people and grief.
  • Look for ways to build bridges with marginalized individuals or groups so that you can support each other.

For additional information, see the Resources section at the end of this module.

​​ Helpful resources