Two weeks ago I was interviewed by CBC, regarding Surrey’s refusal to fly the Pride flag at City Hall. As the camera was being set up the reporter asked me if we were at a point where complaining about having no flag was simply a “rich person’s privilege”. I believe he meant that the queer community was rich with rights and therefore, complaining about a flag essentially boiled down to “whining.”
I politely, and vehemently, disagree.
While we have made incredible advancements in legal equalities across Canada, and I am deeply thankful to live in a country where I have access to my partner in a hospital, a workplace that cannot (legally) fire me, and the ability to marry my partner, we continue to live in a very heteronormative world. It is this world that fosters and often excuses homophobic and transphobic thoughts and behaviours.
Watching same-sex couples and genderqueer folks walk down Davie Street may be typical, but it certainly isn’t in the streets of Surrey. Or Nanaimo. Or Kamloops. Or for that matter, South Vancouver. In many communities, we remain largely invisible.
Our legal equalities have not yet translated to lived equalities. Which is why we must continue to work hard at empowering queer people, educating our communities, and raising awareness on the issues that matter most. Increasing visibility by waving the flag is just one of the thousands of ways that we create a safer, more inclusive world.
Because there is still work to be done.
Two weeks ago my partner and I were in Toronto to attend a friend’s wedding. While standing on a downtown corner on a sunny afternoon, waiting for a bus, Nata lightly kissed the back of my neck. In response, a middle-aged man walking behind us screamed “You fucking dykes!” We turned to witness this man pulsating with anger, his face swollen and red, his eyes locked in on us in a death grip, as he visibly seethed with rage.
We stood there, slightly in shock.
I had assumed a certain level of safety in Toronto, arguably the most diverse city in the world, and the host of World Pride in June. And while I didn’t feel physically threatened by his aggression, that might have been different if there weren’t other people around, if it was at night and therefore dark, and if we were in a more isolated part of the city.
No, I don’t think asking for a flag to be flown that represents diversity and inclusion is “whining”, not when there is so much work to be done. Which is why I am so proud that QMUNITY continues to fight every single day on behalf of our communities.
We can be the change we want to see in the world.
Happy Pride Month!