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Niagara Falls
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Letter: Hatred has no home in NOTL
Discrimination against people in the LGBTQ+ community effects everyone, including the targeted, the bystanders and the current generation of young people: "They are our future, and we are their example," writes Melody Minhorst.

Dear editor:

Imagine if the cenotaph in downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake was vandalized, or city hall or even one of the beautiful churches we have in our community. Imagine how quickly people would be demanding action to find who defaced a symbol of our community.
And yet, this is exactly what has happened: a symbol of support and love in our community has been vandalized not once, but four times with clear hate speech.
Somehow this is still only a “possible” hate crime, and people are saying this is expected.
Well, Niagara-on-the-Lake, I’m not surprised but I am disappointed. Not only are you participating in performative allyship by placing this symbol on the outskirts of Old Town, a crosswalk that doesn’t have nearly as much traffic as it should, but you also allow this vandalism to continue occurring, only cleaning up the mess.
So now, more than a decade after my friends and I started a GSA club in high school (Genders and Sexualities Alliance or Gay Straight Alliance for those who aren’t savvy with the abbreviations), I can only shake my head and wonder: This is still happening?
Get it together, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Suzin Schiff phrased it well (“‘We have to say no:’ Community urged to not tolerate vandalism of Pride crosswalk,” The Lake Report, Aug. 10): “If you want to show your love and support, it has to be a physical action.”
I see you, bystander, and I want you to know me, so this is no longer an issue happening to “someone”: you are part of this.
I used to write for the community newspaper, I have multiple degrees from the University of Guelph and York University and I’ll be starting a PhD in September at Brock University.
Before all that, I went to St. Vincent de Paul, St. Michaels Catholic Elementary School and Niagara District where I fought for our local high school before having to go to one in St. Catharines.
I was probably a classmate or a neighbour to someone you know having lived and worked in Old Town, Chautauqua and Virgil.
I have curly hair, blue eyes, an outspoken personality and guess what: I am part of the queer community.
Hi, nice to meet you, my name is Melody. I want to reassure you, my new acquaintance, I don’t disappear with some silly black marks and paint – I am way too stubborn to let things like that affect me.
But do you know who it does affect? The young ones in our community who are learning hate for minorities or, what I’d hope, love and support for everyone as they figure out their place in the world.
A friendly reminder to all those who forget: those young ones? They are our future, and we are their example.

Clearly, our community is stuck in the past, but now that I know you, my new friend, I see a glimmer of hope. This issue affects someone in your life now – what can you do to help?

Melody Minhorst

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