Pride rainbow flag burnt on flagpole during UBC's OUTweek
The Pride Collective at UBC has released a statement that the Pride rainbow flag that was raised for UBC's OUTweek has been burnt.
Members of the Pride Collective raised the flag for the opening ceremony of OUTWeek on February 5. It was found burned off the student flagpole today (February 9).
Consequently, the Fuck the Cis-tem march for LGBT rights on campus that was scheduled for tomorrow (February 10) has been cancelled. The march was intended to demand a safer and more accessible campus and to raise awareness of cissexism, transphobia, and transmisogyny.
Here is the statement from the Pride Collective:
Early this afternoon we discovered that our Pride rainbow flag has been burned off of the student flagpole outside the SUB, which we had raised on Friday the 5th as part of our opening ceremony for OUTweek 2016. This is a suspected hate crime of intentional destruction to a very publicly important symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. The rainbow flag is a widely recognized symbol representing different various pillars of celebration for many individuals - from unity and community to liberation and activism. As it stands currently we do not know who did this violent act, or why they did it. We believe it is important to share this difficult news with our wider communities as we move forward with the rest of OUTweek 2016.
In regards to the rest of our events for OUTweek 2016, we have briefed and prepared all of our OUTweek Committee members about this and at least one member will be at each event to respond to any possible future incidents.
We are concerned about the safety of our members, facilitators, and participants, and this is our first priority. Because of this, we are cancelling tomorrow’s Fuck the Cis-tem March. We are incredibly disappointed and upset that this is what needs to happen to protect the safety of all of our members and supporters because of the external visibility of this event. All other events will be going forward as planned.
We are looking for support from the wider UBC community in terms of centering the safety of LGBTQ+ students going forward. Needless to say this event has not made us feel safe on campus and affirms the continual need for more to be done in regards to support. OUTweek 2016 is about creating safer spaces and we are incredibly disappointed that this has happened during our celebrations. This speaks to why we need OUTweek in the first place as well as to the history of terrorization of LGBTQ+ spaces on campuses - and how this plays into a larger culture of homophobia and transphobia.
We invite folks to please contact us if you are needing support in light of this incident. We are holding peer support hours and people are available to schedule meetings to talk about this in person or on the phone. Pride is always striving to create an inclusive and safe space for all identities, and we welcome the constructive input of those who might disagree with how we go about doing so. Additionally, the Sexual Assault Support Centre has offered their support services for anyone who is looking for support about anything that may have come up from this incident, and they are available to meet in their support space or at another location that may be more comfortable for you.
The Pride Collective stands together against the burning of the Pride rainbow flag and we are taking the necessary steps to support our members and organizers, as well as the larger communities. Pride has had a history of being targeted by discriminatory violence and the burning of the flag is one that we are incredibly shocked and upset by. OUTweek 2016 will continue and this only strengthens our resolve to continue to be creating safer spaces for LGBTQ+ communities. We ask those who stand in solidarity with us to share this post and information with your networks, as you see fit.
The Pride Collective at UBC
The Pride Collective spoke with the Georgia Straight in an interview and said that they are focused on the safety of students and that they will continue on with OUTweek events as planned, with the exception of the march.
Update (February 10): Mayor Gregor Robertson has requested the Pride flag be flown at Vancouver City Hall in a show of solidarity.