Around Town

Celebrating 10 years of dinners with Zelda

I intended to be fashionably late, as I didn’t want to be there before Zelda arrived, but the trip to Barrhaven from Vanier, a two day journey during rush hour, took only 30 minutes. I arrived at The Heart and Crown just as the car clock tripped to the appointed hour of 7 o’clock. Oh well. Something told me Zelda would be there already.

And she was. It’s the little recognized duty of an organizer to be the first one there and the last to leave, and Zelda Marshall has been organizing these dinners for trans people and their supporters for ten years now. Ten years!

Zelda was there with Sarah, whom I hadn’t met before. Zelda has often said dinners like these are important for trans visibility, which is undoubtedly true, but on a personal level they are also invaluable for meeting new friends, and getting reacquainted with old ones. The new friends I made at the Heart and Crown this particular evening were Sarah, Kristen and Dianne. Julia I had met once before, and it was a pleasure to see her again.

Zelda and Tara
Tara and Zelda at the Heart & Crown, Sept. 30, 2018.

Tying all of us together was Zelda. When she inherited the job of organizing Gender Mosaic dinners, she wanted to expand the range of restaurants to include all types of cuisines. This was before the passage of Bill C-16, of course, which meant Zelda also canvassed the restaurants she chose to ensure her guests could use the proper bathrooms without hassle. I’ve been looking through the reports she filed to the GM executive over the years and the list of restaurants she’s chosen is impressively varied. Incidentally, her reports also reveal the volatility in the Ottawa restaurant and pub business. More than a few of the establishments Zelda selected have since closed. Not to worry. Zelda replaces them with others, and our dinners continue.

Traditionally, Zelda has scheduled these dinners for the last Saturday and Sunday in the month, but employment obligations have forced her to shuffle the schedule. Saturday dinners will now be on the last Thursday. The Sunday dinners remain in place.

Somewhere toward the end of my second beer, I found myself becoming voluble about the kinship I feel for trans people. “They never use the wrong pronoun, and you never have to explain yourself.” It’s restful being around your own kind.

So thank you Zelda for providing us with ten years of restfulness in pleasant surroundings with good people. And not incidentally, for giving a big boost to trans visibility.

October 4, 2018