With PRIDE month just around the corner, and in light of the decision by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to once again not fly the PRIDE flag, I contemplated what I could do to work in solidarity with folks in the LGBTQ+ community. I had already written to the WCDSB (and encourage you to do the same) about my disappointment and frustration in their decision and urged them to reconsider. I thought that I could also place a visible symbol of support at my home. Perhaps a supportive message or rainbow flag on my little library.
That original idea was quickly followed by the thought that if I do that, I may be putting my little library at risk of vandalism or damage of sorts. Which was quickly followed by recognition that if I fear some sort of possible retaliation for simply showing support for PRIDE and inclusivity, how much more must LGBTQ+ individuals and families experience such concerns, not necessarily for just their property, but for themselves.
Although I have made some choices in my life that have received some pushback from family and friends (I think of when, 20 years ago, I told them that I was becoming vegetarian, or that I had decided I didn’t want children of my own), I rarely feel that who I am puts me in harm’s way somehow. As a straight, white woman with a certain level of education and financial means, I know that most of what I do is generally considered ‘normal, or the ‘default’, or ‘acceptable’.
However, this small moment reminded me (and I do hate that I need reminders of this) that there are still people in our community that don’t feel safe or accepted for simply being who they are. Although folks like me sometimes miss it, there is still work to be done to build an equitable and welcoming community for all.
And there are a multitude of ways to push back against these unfair and discriminating systems and policies. For me, I find it helpful to read articles and books, and listen to podcasts, from LGBTQ+ authors and artists. Also, follow them on social media and listen to their experiences. Volunteer or donate to the many organizations working with and in the LGBTQ+ community. Talk with your friends and family about these issues as well and share what you’re learning. Write your local politicians (and school boards!) asking for more inclusive policies.
What am I missing? Feel free to share additional ways to support our community as we work together to create a more welcoming and inclusive city.