LGBTQ Pride: Of tolerance and acceptance

“Oh, my God. I’m delivering condoms to a bunch of faggots!”

Those words were attributed to a delivery man who had just brought a box of condoms to the offices of Fierté Montréal, an LGBTQ Pride organization. The incident was reported in a Canada Pride preview piece by Richard Burnett for the Montreal Gazette. Apparently, the delivery guy kept repeating it over and over again.

“Here we are in 2017, and we’re being called faggots in our own office,” Fierté Montréal vice-president Jean-Sébastien Boudreault told Burnett. “It just shows you how ingrained societal homophobia still is in this day and age. That’s why Pride is still important.”

We’ll be hearing more of these sorts of stories — and worse — during Pride week in Montreal, which will culminate with the annual Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 20. And maybe all the media attention will help people like the delivery man learn to be more tolerant by keeping such thoughts to himself, even if he is personally repulsed by the thought of homosexuality.

Pride events can only do so much. We can teach people to be tolerant, indeed, that they legally must be tolerant — and that comments like those by the delivery man are not only unacceptable, but discriminatory under Canadian law. In other words, you could end up facing charges for expressing such thoughts.

We can also teach people about acceptance, that homophobia is rooted in archaic superstitious belief systems. But we can’t make people accept us. They must tolerate us and treat us with equality (in Canada). But they are free to believe that LGBTQ people are perverted and/or mentally ill.

We can try to change the way people think, but let’s be honest: there are some people who will always be repulsed by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer folks — and will fervently believe we are evil sinners.

And we in the LGBTQ community will always have to stand up against right-wingers who will forever try to roll back our hard-won civil rights.

Which is one of the reasons why Pride events are still important in places like Montreal and other Canadian and American cities, especially in the latter. We’ve come a long way, but we still have to protect what we have won.

Pride events here, of course, serve other important purposes, perhaps the most important of which is to show young people struggling with sexual orientation and/or gender identity issues that they are not alone, and that it is OK to be true to yourself.

And they might give some hope to oppressed LGBTQ people in other nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Uganda, to name just two, that their governments will change their superstitious, patriarchal attitudes some day.

But it won’t be soon enough. The sad truth is, many, if not the majority of LGBTQ people around the world still do not have equal civil rights.

That’s what I am thinking about as Pride events get underway in Montreal this week.

— Jillian Page


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