COLUMN: Far better to be proud than fearful

Some members of the LBGTQ community feel they haven’t achieved equality yet, and are willing to call attention to the issue...

Why do gays want to fly a “pride” flag at city hall?

Some bemused straight people would like to know. Mostly, those would be tolerant types, who find it puzzling that such a statement needs to be made at all. Society accepts gay people nowadays, right?

Part of the answer is illustrated by the response to the stories we’ve recently carried on the request, and council’s approval.

After less than five days, our Facebook story post received nearly 25,000 reaches, and about 200 comments, some of them so vicious – using words like “fags” and “homos” – we took them down.

Clearly, this is still a very controversial issue, with the aggravating factor, of course, that the mayor and council have shown their support for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community by allowing them to fly their flag during pride celebrations later this month.

More than a few people – including locals Richard and Gerda Peachey – have voiced their opposition to involvement by city hall in what they consider to be immoral matters.

Most would argue that being LGBTQ has nothing to do with morality.

The Peacheys, feel otherwise. And you might not like their position, grounded in their stout faith beliefs.

However, they pose interesting questions. They make us stop and think. Should community facilities host events that offend some people – like lingerie football or Taboo Sex Shows? Should government approve activities or celebrations that some find immoral?

The answers may be obvious to you, but dialogue and debate is good. It’s the mark of an open, democratic society. Unfortunately, some people feel it necessary to attack and denigrate the Peacheys for their opinion – and that’s just as wrong as persecuting gay people.

They are completely within their rights to express an opinion, and to challenge public policy decisions.

At the same time, I’d say some of the opposition voiced by Facebook commenters is downright silly, such as saying the flag perverts the “real” meaning of the rainbow, i.e.  a colourful natural phenomenon, and/or message from God.

Breaking news: “Gays hijack rainbow!”

Call out the colour spectrum terminology police.

Others suggest pride celebrations teach our children that the LGBTQ orientation and lifestyle is “normal.”

What it teaches them is that Canada, the U.S. and dozen other countries have accepted the LGBTQ community into mainstream society, including the legalization of same-sex marriages.

The flag represents inclusiveness. And it’s hardly in your face. Not, for instance, like door-to-door evangelism …

Then there’s the specious argument: “Why is there no ‘straight’ flag? Straight people are being discriminated against!”

More breaking news. The straight “flag” is being flown 24/7. You aren’t treated differently or persecuted because you’re straight.

Some members of the LBGTQ community feel they haven’t achieved equality yet, and are willing to call attention to the issue with parades and flags. That carries a downside, provoking those who would prefer gays to get back in their closets and stay there.

But neither is it right that fear of intolerance should keep people silent and invisible.

So, fly the flag for a few days. March if you are inclined. Far better to be proud than fearful.

As a good friend of mine likes to say, you’re welcome in my village.

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