The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: All We Knew But Couldn’t Say by Joanne Vannicola

I needed the silence. The page and pen became my friends, my confidantes, my soft place. It would be the one place where my thoughts, voice, politics, ideology, and identity could exist freely.

I believe that I will be okay. I believe that using my life for the purpose of helping others matters. That creating space and being okay within my own skin matter — being authentic and vocal, emotional and present, trying new things, and even if I fail, getting up to try again. And if I am lucky, I will learn many lessons and rise to as many occasions as present themselves. What exists in me now is the belief that I can make a difference, that my story and life experiences have value. I have much more to do in the world. Art, writing, poetry, music, film, and self-expression matter.

In my deepest place, I go to gratitude and love. It’s love and hope that keeps me motivated, the idea that there is so much more out there. And there are so many young people who have it right, like the Parkland students and young feminists and intersectional queer kids who are ahead of my generation culturally and politically, who are invested in the equity of race and gender, of embracing our differences, and of helping the planet and changing the world. So many beautiful souls.

It is impossible to continue without mentioning the Me Too movement and the women who are bringing awareness to sexual violence and rape. Brave women such as Anita Hill and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and, in Canada, women like Lucy DeCoutere — warriors who stand up in the face of hatred and fear and speak out regardless.

Historically, there has always been backlash against women who stand up and against any movement that threatens the power of those who hold it, that tries to right the wrongs of oppression: misogyny, racism, homophobia.

We will win these battles one day. We need to believe that.

As writer and civil rights activist Audre Lorde said, “Revolution is not a one-time event.”

In honor of National Women’s History Month, this selection comes from the book, All We Knew But Couldn’t Say, available from DunDurn Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Joanne Vannicola is an Emmy award-winning actor, author, and advocate. Vannicola is the chair of outACTRAto, the LGBTQ+ committee at ACTRA Toronto, and sits on the sexual assault ad-hoc committee for women in film and television. Vannicola is the recipient of the Leslie Yeo award for volunteerism (2019), and the recipient of The Margaret Trudeau Advocacy Award (2020). Joanne founded the non-profit organization, Youth Out Loud, raising awareness about child abuse, sexual violence, youth rights, and LGBTQ+ equality. All We Knew But Couldn’t Say, was released in June, 2019, and has been featured as the Top 21 memoirs to read in summer by Bustle magazine, and was featured on The Next Chapter by Shelagh Rogers, the Toronto Star, the Globe, CTV mornings, NOW Magazine, The Girly Club, and the Lambda Literary Reviews. They are currently co-developing a new series, and working on their second book, exploring themes of LGBTQI homelessness. You can learn more at: Or on Twitter or Instragram: @joannevannicola

Nilsa Rivera Castro writes about women with a socio-economic disadvantage and the effect of trauma, hearing loss, homelessness, and violence in their lives. Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens, The Selkie Literary Magazine, LipServices Miami, Writing Class Radio, and The Cream Literary Alliance. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @nilsawrites.


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