Pride Week is a celebration of social victories not just earned, but deserved.

I couldn’t help but think that perhaps we have arrived at that happy place

The couple looked to be university age, certainly no older.

Both slight of build with dark, short-cropped hair and adorned in casual wear designed for summertime frolic, they were walking south on Broad Street, all the while holding hands, their fingers interlocked in an unguarded display of affection.

Nothing out of the ordinary. We witness it every day on the downtown sidewalks of Victoria, folks young, old and in-between strolling hand-in-hand.

So what made me notice this pair? Simple: No one else seemed to notice them.

These were two women, you see. Lesbians. Passersby flanked the girls to the north, the south, the east and the west and not one among them flashed a frown of disapproval. There were no arched-eyebrow double-takes. Nary a word of condemnation or the fires of hell was to be heard.

That’s why I smiled and felt a rush of joy as I watched the two girls go merrily on their way.

This was, by no means, the first time I had seen this scene play out. It was, however, the first time I noticed – really noticed – that no one else had noticed. Or cared. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps we have arrived at that happy place vis-a-vis gays blending in with the regular rabble. Finally.

If only that were true.

Sure, we’ve come a long way, baby, but as much as we use Pride Week in Victoria to celebrate victories earned in the ongoing crusade for equal rights, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that it can still be rather cruel and ugly out there. Especially for our gay youth and men.

The most recent McCreary Centre Society Report on adolescent health in B.C. (a survey of 30,000 students, grades 7-12) advises us that 64 per cent of lesbian students have been discriminated against due to their sexual orientation. The number was 47 per cent for gay males and 37 per cent for bisexuals.

Statistics Canada, meanwhile, has released its most-recent findings on police-reported hate crime in the True North and it is a most disturbing bit of business.

Whereas the majority of the 1,167 hate crimes in 2013 fell into the mischief file (graffiti, vandalism, etc.), a staggering 66 per cent of wrong-doing against the LGBT collective was violent (that’s compared to 44 per cent of race/ethnic-based crime and 18 per cent of religion-based crime). In other words, gay victims of hate crime aren’t merely required to wipe spray paint off walls –they’re going to walk-in clinics or hospitals.

Moreoever, 83 per cent of victims of homophobic crime from 2010 to 2013 were male, 48 per cent of whom were under age 25.

So, as much as it delights me to see two young women strolling down the sidewalk hand-in-hand, the McCreary Report and the StatsCan numbers serve as harsh reminders that the haters still hate, at the same time providing an answer to the oft-asked question: Why is Pride Week necessary?

Pride Week is a celebration of social victories not just earned, but deserved. It is a time for reflection and hope for the future. It is a coming-together of kindred souls who have battled the same demons and fears that once led to prosecution and still lead to persecution. It is about diversity and inclusiveness.

Pride Week isn’t just a gay thing. It is an everybody thing. It is a reaching-out of hands across the divide (it is an ever-shrinking divide, to be sure, but a divide nonetheless) in a quest to unite as one.

Trouble is, it’s hard to hold hands with someone whose hand is clenched into a fist.

Patti Dawn Swansson is a former Black Press reporter and proud winner of the 2012 Q Award for her writing about Victoria’s LGBT community.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the Victoria Police Department, some of whom are shown here observing a moment of silence for victims of a mass shooting in Nova Scotia, experience stress and potential trauma more than most other workers, says Chief Const. Del Manak. While the number of shifts lost at VicPD are soaring, he sees it as a sign people are taking their own health and wellness seriously. (Black Press Media file photo)
Skyrocketing number of lost shifts at Victoria police has a positive side, chief says

Chief Const. Del Manak says officers, staff being more proactive looking after their mental health

A Seed and Stone rendering for White Rock, B.C. (Seed and Stone rendering)
Songhees Nation to open two Victoria cannabis stores spring 2021

Seed and Stone stores will open on Gordon Street and in the Bay Centre

A water taxi at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested after stealing water taxi, racing it up Gorge Waterway

Man is facing recommended charges of theft over $5,000

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head inmates in Metchosin receive their first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

A mattress on fire gutted the second floor hallway at Town Park Apartments C-block Jan. 17. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue images)
‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months

A burning mattress created smoke and heat, causing several tenants to jump from windows

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Most Read