Pride month is on the horizon and it has me reflecting on the power of symbols. Symbols like the pink triangle that was used to identify gay men in Nazi concentration camps or the raised fist the Black Power movement that both have been claimed as statements of how existence in itself is resistance. As we head into June, I’ve been reflecting on the importance of the Pride flag as a similar symbol. For many years, I thought the flag was just that, a piece of fabric that indicated where a party was at but not something that had power or purpose. As I grow and learn more, or maybe just get old, I see the Pride flag with new eyes.
This year, there have been contentious and hateful experiences surrounding the raising of Pride flags in Ontario. Children have been attacked, families have been victim to hate speech and the intention seems to be to scare the 2SLGBTQ+ community back into our collective closets. It’s made me reflect on my own internalized homophobia and about how out I want to be and in what spaces my family can be safely out. If I’m having these reflections as an outspoken advocate in our community it makes me wonder how youth in our community must be feeling. It also is what motivates me to be visible even when what I really dream about is living a normal middle aged life where my biggest conflict is around navigating our kids’ screen time, like every other parent who’s just come out of the pandemic. That said, grown 2SLGBTQ+ people, including myself, are stepping up because we know we have to. Our visibility, like fighting for safe flag raising events, is necessary to ensure that our families and our freedoms stay safe and protected. To me, the Pride flag is no longer about where to find a drink and a dance partner but it’s about our right to exist in peace.
Twenty years ago marriage laws became legal in Canada and the arguments then were around the idea that our existence didn’t threaten anyone else’s ability to do the same. We are at a different point in history now where people of my generation are being pushed by our young people to do more than ask for existence – our kids are asking to thrive and be celebrated. Those are requests that people of our generation couldn’t even dream about because it was so far off of our radar.
So, this Pride, I ask grown members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community to reflect on how we got the privileges that we have in our lives now, as well as, the hurt that kept us in varying degrees of the closet. I ask you to love yourself the way this young generation does and to show up to protect and inspire them. Almost more importantly, I ask our straight friends to show up for us and to understand the nuanced struggle that still exists for many people in our community. Specifically, I ask our straight friends and allies to come to Pride events and Pride flag raising events. Come sing with us, cheer for us and share in our joy. It is your presence and your love that will continue to build a better and safer world.
Let’s Go Change The World!! With Love and Gratitude,