More than 100 people collected for a very public jumble of dancing and flag waving in support of the LGBTQ2+ community on Saturday after the three rainbow crosswalks at Gibsons’ Five Corners were defaced with whitewash the night before. Sean Eckford covered the story but I feel compelled to write about it.
From Sechelt to Gibsons, the Sunshine Coast is abloom with rainbow crosswalks, joining dozens of other B.C. communities in acknowledging “diversity and acceptance,” as Gibsons Mayor Bill Beamish declared this week.
Most of the installations have been met with a chorus of approval, while a handful of people puffed their discontent.
In response to Coast Reporter’s coverage of the Gibsons Elementary School crosswalk, one letter writer said that, as a Christian, he disagreed “with the gay pride movement’s views on sexuality and marriage” and didn’t believe “public school children should be propagandized with gay pride ideology.”
What I love about that letter is that a name is attached to it. Coast Reporter’s letter policy requires it, and so accountability was built into that opinion. No matter whether you agree with it, you know who wrote it.
You can look him up in the phone book, run into him at the grocery store, or shake his hand at church. Or, like so many others, you can respond in kind, signing your name at the bottom of your missive.
And that’s what I love about community newspaper letters. Opinions of all stripes and colours are carefully moderated and published. The minority may be vocal but dialogue is inevitable, and collectively, we may peer into the mirror and see what we’re made of.
No one had that opportunity last Saturday.
In response, the LGBTQ2+ community – myself included – made a public display of ourselves. Something that could have put us in jail 50 years ago.
Anonymity can be a powerful tool. Coast Reporter knows it. That’s why we give it limited purchase through tiny, typically apolitical, anonymous comments in the Kisses and Kicks section, which happened to be the only place in the paper where the letter was – anonymously – defended.
Anonymity is an indispensable tool, not the least for the queer community. But it cuts both ways, as demonstrated by Saturday’s homophobic act. Actions by unknown forces arouse fear for monsters we cannot name.
But there’s a measure of hope to be added to the equation.
After Friday’s vandalism, the LGBTQ2+ community and its supporters, emboldened by the march of history and our constitutional rights, danced exuberantly, publicly – and lest we forget, legally.
The only refuge for the unknown vandal(s) was their own silence. And perhaps while stewing in it, they got a taste for what it’s like to hide in shame.