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A Pride list: incomplete and heartbreaking

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Crowd ripping up hatred sign at Ford Fest annual picnic in 2014. Photo credit: Elizabeth Littlejohn
  • I've been called "righteous," "a troublemaker."

  • I've been told to "slow down."

  • I've been asked to talk about "it" by the people who have hurt me.

  • I've been told the world is not ready and not everything is "gay." "Don't rock the boat; be patient."

  • I was called a "pedophile" by a teenager walking by a #ClimateCrisis gathering in Bancroft that I was at.

  • I've been ignored by people I have asked for support.

  • I have been left standing alone on the street when a friend went into a shop even though he knew I wouldn't go in because the owner refused to cater a friend's wedding when she found out my friend is lesbian.

  • I've been told, "at least you don't live in (insert another country's name here)."

  • I've been told, "get over it -- there are people worse off than you."

  • I have seen articles posted about trans people getting killed and their murders ignored.

  • I've seen Nazis carrying swastika flags and wearing swastika armbands being escorted by police wearing rainbow badges in a Detroit Pride parade.

  • I have seen Ontario Premier Doug Ford with his minister of health surrounded by police at a Pride parade. Memes have been posted of him angrily pointing at someone in the Toronto City Hall Gallery. That's me he's singling out. He's yelling at me: "… and what do you know, Mr. Professional Grant Writer?" And now he's marching in a Pride parade with the cops. Both are part of the problem.

  • I've had allies tell me what I should do without any offer to do it themselves and in the middle of it, I listen to their "problems."

  • I have seen editorials where people are discussing whether "genocide" is the right word to use.

  • I have seen a bulletin from a Picton, Ontario Catholic church a couple of hours south of my home in Hastings Highlands telling people to avoid this month's Pride festivities and especially not to expose their children to it.

This is just over the last few weeks and this list is not complete. I have also had conversations full of support and love from friends and people I hardly or don't know.

People have forwarded me the emails they have written to Hastings Highlands Council requesting the raising of the rainbow flag. I read each of them more than once and am moved by the compassion and understanding they are showing me and LGBTQ people.

I have no idea how any letter against the rainbow flag could have any love or compassion in it and yet I've been told there are "both sides to this" and there's "a need to accommodate everyone." The supportive emails people have forwarded make me cry. When I read them that tightness in my gut goes away ... for a while.

I have friends who both live and understand how painful it is to live in a world that hates queer people. I love these people deeply. They understand how these strikes against us don't happen just once or twice, that they aren't part of history. They are constant. They are ongoing and some believe they are ramping up as the people who hate us become emboldened.

People understand how exhausting it can be just to exist and face these microaggressions again and again; yet we're told it gets better. Asking a municipality to raise a rainbow flag isn't a small thing. This simple ask throws light on the hate against LGBTQ people -- or any group treated like they deserve less than others. I can't understand the logic of not raising the flag. Although I know what they say to support the hate, the queer-erasure.

No one, no group of people, is not worthy of love, safety, happiness and a future.

Imagine what it would be like for me and so many other people if the list started at the top of this article didn't have to be written. Imagine the work we could do; imagine the energy we'd have to create and be in this world.

Right now, we're all rainbows and celebration, but this time of year will pass and we won't see rainbows splashed over logos and flying from flagpoles the rest of the year.

A lot of people think these summer festivities will sustain us -- it's like a gift the world gives us to get through the rest of the year. It's not. You're fooled if you think the world must love us because during the summer there are so many rainbows. Black people too -- they have a whole month -- that should sustain them. And women, well, they have a whole day!

No person or group who can only see themselves in one day, one week, one month or anything less than 365 days a year should be happy that that's enough. I can't be patient. And right now, we're seeing LGBTQ people not even making it through the one day they have a parade.

Increased activity by the alt-right and violence at Pride celebrations have generated fears about hate groups turning up to disrupt Pride events. Toronto agency The 519, which advocates for LGBTQ rights, issued an advisory following a violent incident on April 30 and is distributing mobilization kits in case of disruptions during Pride weekend.

Roy Mitchell moved to Hastings Highlands from Toronto six years ago. He lives on a 100-acre homestead in the Hybla. He is a community organizer, arts administrator and writer. He mixes performance art and journalism through his project Hybla Today.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Littlejohn

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