Pride (In the name of love)*
We work very hard to teach our daughter empathy and kindness. Both Darren and I are only children, often in the worst sense of the word. I personally work very hard to stop and think how other people might be feeling and think outside myself. I’m not perfect and I often slip up. And I find when I’m slipping up, the Universe or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever Power there may be has a way of bringing me back to reality.
The other day, I had the privilege to attend a Pride Week discussion. The panel included elected officials and prominent members of the LGBTQ community in Vancouver. Age ranges went from early 20s all the way up to seniors (whose ages I won’t mention because well, you never ask a lady her age).
All were asked to answer the question “What would you tell your 20 year old self?”
Aside from noting that she would tell her 20 year old self to stop sleeping with men, one panelist noted that she had become what, as 20 year old, she had sighed and rolled her eyes at when seeing feminist activists with their signs saying “Down with the Patriarchy” at university. Karma, she called it.
She said (and I am paraphrasing here – I am not so eloquent as her), that’s it’s not about tolerance – it’s about kindness and stopping to think and understand what people are actually advocating about.
To take it to another level, it’s a matter of showing some pride and love in the fact that we’re all in this together, and how we treat each other matters. How everyone should be afforded the same basic rights and be free to exercise those rights. How two men kissing, or two women kissing, or a man and a woman kissing in public are merely Public Displays of Affection.
Another woman on the panel – a First Nations woman who was one of the designers for the 2010 Olympic medals – mentioned that at some point, a random person on the street had come up to her and her girlfriend on the street as they were holding hands and said, “You look so happy. You should get married.”
And that is the crux of it. The right to marry, to be happy, to love who we love and show that love freely should be allowed to everyone.
And the fact is, rights is not a zero sum game: my rights as a straight, seemingly white, woman are not taken away because a gay woman has the right to love who she wants. In fact, I believe those rights are strengthened when they are afforded to everyone.
On the matter of Russia, they have taken this one step further by allowing officials to arrest and detain anyone suspected of being LGBTQ for two weeks. This demonstrates a clear step backwards in terms of Russia becoming a democracy in more than name only. The right to freedom of movement, and freedom from unlawful search and seizure are paramount in any democracy.
In the United States, the right for gay couples to marry has come under fire. Although the US Supreme Court has deemed it unconstitutional to prevent gay couples from marrying, there is still a large part of the population and elected officials who believe otherwise.
Both of these examples show a belief of rights being a zero sum game.
And while my four year old may not understand “rights” or “zero sum” (yet), she can understand kindness.
While I get a slap in the face to think beyond myself.
So this Pride week, and beyond, let’s show each other some kindness, some understanding and even some love.
*Title shamelessly borrowed from U2