13 C
Niagara Falls
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Letter: Here’s why symbols like rainbow crosswalk are important
Letter. Supplied

Dear editor:

Society built the closet for LGBTQ+ people and gave them a choice:

1. To live in the closet in relative social safety, by our rules, which required a lifetime of pretending to be someone other than who they were with the attending loneliness, depression, increased risk of suicide and to live in fear of being found out or

2. To be true to themselves and live a life where their very existence was marginalized. They would never be able to have a family, housing was at risk, employment was perilous, they would be socially ostracized, vilified, spat on, beat up, arrested, and the threat of being murdered was very real. 

As the architects of the closet, it is also up to society to kick the doors wide open, rip down the closet and bring about change.

We do this on multiple levels: through legislation that ensures equal rights and protection for people’s families, health, housing, employment, education and access to services as well as through a more informal but equally important community movement that demonstrates not just a tolerance for people but an acceptance and welcoming of them.

One visible way of doing this is through symbols, which are important and ubiquitous. They provide concrete representations of qualities and ideas.

Symbols of faith let us know where we will be welcome to worship, medical symbols let us know where to find help, team symbols unite a fan base, coloured ribbons are worn by people to show support for hurting or marginalized groups.

Symbols let us know where likeminded people are and give us a sense of safety and belonging.

The rainbow is one such symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. Its existence in our community shows that we don’t just tolerate people from the LGBTQ+ community, we welcome them with open arms, they are safe here and we will stand up for them.

These symbols are only unimportant to you if you don’t need them. If I am not a sports fan, the blue maple leaf or red raptor claw means nothing to me.

If I do not belong to a faith, the symbols that show our community’s places of worship are not important. If the LGBTQ+ community is not relevant to me, I will be ambivalent about the rainbow in any form.

However these symbols aren’t meant for me, they are meant for the people they are important to.

If I belong to a faith, it feels comforting to see symbols of my existence recognized and embraced by community.

If I walk into a sporting event or sports bar, it feels more welcoming when I see my teams represented.

When I am a survivor of cancer or have a child with autism, it helps to have visible support from others and it lets me know I am not alone.

If I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a rainbow tells me something about the town – that I am likely to be seen, welcomed and accepted. I am wanted. 

Whenever there is a push for society to give voice to and include marginalized peoples, those who feel threatened by the inclusion of others sound the dog whistles – and NOTL is no different.

For those that say the democratic process requires a majority of NOTL citizens to be in favour or taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for the rainbow symbols in our town, I remind you that grassroots movements for equality and inclusivity have all required the involvement of government (legislative and/or judicial) and thus taxpayers’ money before they found acceptance in general society.

Movements such as abolition of slavery and child labour, voting rights for BIPOC and women, protections for people with disabilities, gender equality, sexual health/reproductive rights, labourers rights and workplace safety all had their detractors.

Most Canadian’s no longer think twice about these rights as they have been accepted and normalized into our Canadian way of life.

Our LGBTQ+ family, friends, neighbours and visitors deserve no less.

Sheri Durksen


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