LGBT people in Canada, we have come so far. We have made leaps and bounds to be accepted as a community in mainstream society, such that that we are viewed not as tokens, not as defective and not as oddities amongst Canadians, but as hard-working, loving, everyday people.
At this point in our colourful history, LGBT Canadians can look around them and feel accomplished, we can be proud of the fight for our rights to be protected from violence, our rights to be protected at work and our rights to love our partners in the eyes of the law.
It was but a mere 30 years ago that police would raid LGBT underground nightclubs and torment and humiliate patrons. In the same era, we were still not allowed to marry our partners, unable to adopt children, and job security was a distant dream. Today we have that through hard work, sweat, tears, and blood.
Pride month is about remembering where we have come from, and the distance that we have yet to go to become truly equal in our country and in the world. As much as we have seen progress, there are those hell-bent on living in the past.
Russia still has in place a law targeted at reducing LGBT propaganda to address the alleged issue of minors being exposed to “non-traditional sexual relationships.” Because of this, LGBT Russians have been left bloody in the streets, detained without warrant and kidnapped never to be found. We should expect more from a nuclear power and UN Security Council member, not honouring its atrocities with gifts such as hosting the Olympics or nominating its president for human rights and peace activist awards.
Even in our own back yard, Trinity Western Law School has attempted to reclaim the distant past of discrimination against LGBT Canadians. Trinity Western, a religious, private post-secondary institution in British Columbia, has a strong mandate forbidding sex outside of heterosexual marriage. This school openly discriminates and puts policy in its institution against homosexuality — and it is training the lawyers and young professionals of tomorrow. Thankfully, law societies across the country have voted not to call to the bar graduates from Trinity Western.
Amongst the bad, there is so much good here at home. Moving forward into our future, the LGBT community shines best here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have far surpassed the expectations among Canadian provinces for advancing the protection our LGBT Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
With the help of Egale Human Rights Trust, our Department of Education has made strides, larger than any other in the country, to tackle bullying and ensure that all students are welcome to learn and thrive in the classroom without fear.
For the past number of years our former minister of education fought side by side with Egale in the classrooms and school across our province brandishing his pink anti-bullying T-shirt. Thank you. Clyde. Jackman.
Most notable this year, we are proud of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for opening its arms and declaring for all to see that LGBT people can join the force.
It has stepped up and become a leader in policing forces across Canada for promotion of workplace equality, because like they say, if you can serve, you can serve.
In Canada, and particularly Newfoundland and Labrador, the LGBT community has it far better than most around the world. We have seen the trials and tribulations that other countries have put our community through.
From Russian tundra to the plains of Uganda, there are LGBT people who are not safe. There are LGBT who are not able to live their everyday lives in peace. Our brothers and sisters around the globe are far from protected. In countries across the world, we are still persecuted. We are still hunted down and beaten like dogs and incarcerated like criminals. The only crime that so many of us are guilty of is being ourselves and having the courage to love who we do, openly and honestly.
And that is why we continue to celebrate Pride.
As a pinnacle of excellence in human rights for LGBT people, we must continue to be proud of what we have done and are fighting to do internationally.
We must continue to live our everyday lives, to love and live without fear, to be happy being who we are. We must continue to have the biggest party of the year, with rainbows and sheer happiness beaming from every person that calls themselves gay, lesbian, bi or trans* so that we can be a proud and guiding beacon around the world.
We can make a better tomorrow together, for us here at home, and our LGBT member all around the world. Never forget where we have come from and where we have left to go.
Noah Davis Power,
Former president, St. John’s Pride Inc.