With Pride Month wrapping up last week, it was a time for me to reflect on why we still have work to do when it comes to accepting the LGBTQ2+ community and making them safe.
According to Statistics Canada, there were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes across the country. There were 263 incidents that targeted someone based on their sexual orientation, which was a 41 per cent increase compared to the 186 that were reported a year earlier. Those are just the ones that were reported to law enforcement.
That also doesn’t account for those struggling to accept themselves and not understanding who they are.
Pride is for anyone and everyone who struggled to fit in, for those who were turned away by their loved ones because of who they are, and some pick their own families of those who love them for exactly who they are.
Whenever I see a rainbow, or any other flag that represents the LGBTQ2+ community, I know that person has learned to love the person who they are. They’re proud of being able to rise above it all and say ‘this is who I am. Take it or leave it.’ I think they’re very lucky to be able to do that.
You may not understand it because you were born the gender that matches your sex, that you’re attracted to the gender you’re supposed to be, that people understand and respect when you decide to change your name if you get married, or that any issues or struggles you had didn’t evolve around your sexuality. But, that doesn’t diminish the struggles someone else may have endured.
Many members of the LGBTQ2+ community are told that their feelings are wrong. Even in my own generation, one of the ‘woke’ ones, I know many people from my high school who didn’t come out until they were in their 20s because they feared how their friends and family would react.
It’s these reasons, and many more, that makes me realize we still need Pride and likely will for years to come. Every time someone is told ‘you don’t look gay’ or ‘you just haven’t found the right guy/girl yet,’ those microaggressions remind me that we still have a long way to go.
We need to continue to grow and teach one another that every single person is amazing and not chastise someone for celebrating themselves when they were forced to stay quiet about it for years.
As Cpt. Raymond Holt from the show Brooklyn 99 said “Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.”