By Keith Clarkson
It’s Vancouver LGBTIQ2S+ Pride this weekend, which challenges us,—despite the long-deferred desire to dance in the streets—to look beyond the rainbow-flag waving.
Around the world, queers still face deadly danger. In Ukraine, LGBTIQ2S+ people are erasing their mobile-phone data for fear of being sent to “filtration” camps in homo-homicidal Russia.
Closer to us, the U.S. Supreme Court is rolling back women’s rights like a preview for The Handmaid's Tale, and it’s only a matter of time till they attack marriage equality and go after the queers.
Here in B.C., prior to the pandemic, my spouse and I suffered three homophobic attacks in the summer of 2019 when the haters in our own country were emboldened by Trump’s hateful rhetoric. Their descent into barbarity has only gathered strength postpandemic with the trucker blockades—a cynical camouflage for intolerance and insurrection ornamented with Confederate flags, swastikas, and the broken glass of businesses flying the rainbow flag.
So, what can we do to strengthen our own defences here in our province and across the country? The majority of Canadians believe in LGBTIQ2S+ rights, and the history of Canada has always emphasized the protection of minority rights.
Beyond and over the rainbow flags, it’s at the executive level that innate prejudices are revealed. Sure, queer people may be generally tolerated, but at the top there is a rose-coloured glass ceiling beyond which we can only glimpse the radiant future.
What presence do queer people have as the leaders of publicly traded companies and public institutions and in our governments at the local and national levels? In the House of Commons, the number of queer MPs is a paltry 2.4 percent. Only one out of 30 cabinet ministers is queer (in a self-styled feminist government), and in the Senate it’s one sole individual representing less than one percent of the 105 members. The Senate is meant to be a model assembly reflecting the diversity and excellence of our country.
In the current drive to right historic inequities, race is important but it isn’t the only injustice that needs to be addressed. Queer people transcend all races and cultures and continue to suffer discrimination and violence. It would be a shame if LGBTIQ2S+ people continue to be passed over. Doesn’t this lack of action reflect persistent homophobia?
Without taking away from the important work of addressing other inequalities, queer people need to agitate for their own place at the table. We need the support of our allies if we truly hope to create a strong and diverse country that can stand up to the challenges coming at us from within and without.
Canadians can’t afford to be turned against each other. We urgently need to get our own house in order.
We need to be out and not out of order.