Accept others’ differences

Pride Week begins, an incident of gay bashing in front of a nightclub gives cause for pause.

In thinking about today’s editorial on Pride Week, which gets underway tomorrow (June 30), we were conflicted over what context to put a recent a gay-bashing incident in downtown Victoria.

After a man dropped bullet shell casings at the feet of individuals standing in front of a gay nightclub, and used  homophobic epithets, the Victoria police categorized it as a hate crime. We didn’t see that one incident as proof of a general lack of intolerance.

Instead, the fact such cases are rare these days, at least those involving police, gave us reason to consider how far we’ve come as a community in dispensing with biases and stigmas against people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning.

Acceptance, inclusivity and the empowerment of people, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender conflict, are some of the motivating factors behind the annual Pride Week activities.

Pride Week, with its colourful, flamboyant parade, rollicking softball game and other events, was once a curiosity to the general public. Now it’s simply another fun, family friendly activity on a busy summer calendar of events in Victoria.

Speaking of summer, gay tourism is actively promoted for the region. Tourism Victoria has a full page of links to LGBTQ-friendly sites, entertainment and resources in the area.

With numerous local clubs and organizations catering to the LGBTQ community, and school districts and post-secondary institutions spending more time creating an environment of acceptance for all students, it seems Greater Victoria is becoming a safer place to be gay.

While some might hold up the insensitive and angry actions of one person as further evidence that the situation is grim, we choose to celebrate the fact that more people are finding the courage to come out and others are finding the courage to accept that.