Tuesday, February 11, 2014


It's a story I've told many times, and probably more than once on this blog, but once upon a time, there was a relatively naive university student who joined the campus student newspaper. He quite liked it, but about six months in, the paper decided to put out their annual Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual supplement right around Valentine's Day.

The lad had only recently met a few out of the closet gay people, who seemed pretty cool and he was evolving nicely from the knee-jerk "huh huh faggots" mindset that way too many Newfoundland high school students had at that time. It's not that he was a bad person, just ignorant. But he'd had his mind changed, in a good way. So why not put out a supplement that might reach other people and change their minds? And along the way provide some information on safe sex that might help some young GLB people be safer?

To say the supplement was not greeted...warmly, would be an understatement. Engineering students threw bundles of papers into the garbage. Students tried to force their way into the campus office to confront staff and shouted profanities. A petition was launched to shut the paper down (it received almost 2,000 signatures). It was one of the lead stories on CBC News that evening. The university's president spoke to the local daily and stated that our actions could result in higher tuition fees for students, which while complete bullshit, certainly made the paper more popular.

And all that, all of that, was just a fraction of the crap that gay people in the province had to endure in Newfoundland and Labrador at that time. That naive lad grew up in a big ass hurry, especially manning the phones, where he was routinely cursed on and told he was an embarrassment to his family (his folks, to their credit, asked if he was all right. He said yup. They said no more about the controversy, but were supportive of staying with the paper and fighting).

That was 23 years ago (Christ I'm getting old) and even the crap that I went through, which was nothing compared to what friends went through, is even less than what GLBQ people have to endure in Russia right now. That's why I was astonished, and pleased as hell, when the City of St. John's took the lead in Canada in flying the Pride Flag the day of the Opening Ceremonies to the Winter Olympics. I never thought I would see the day, but I'm glad I did.

I was also pleased to see other cities across Canada follow St. John's lead. And while I was watching all of this unfold online on Friday, a simple question went out on Twitter to local Iqaluitmuit..."Hey, do you think we could do something similar here in town?"

And so went the cry...and very quickly things happened. A Pride Flag was found (honestly wasn't sure there was one in town) and donated by a very good friend of mine. A city councillor on Twitter said he would be happy to bring to the City Council building and get them to hoist it up the flag pole.

And then, at 2 pm on Monday, this happened...

If you read as much news as I do, there are days you have your faith in humanity shaken quite a bit. I read a story today about a city in Florida banning homeless people from having blankets to keep warm at night. So there's that.

But then you have moments where you get to see the Pride Flag hoisted in Iqaluit and watch a good friend get pretty misty about that happening. People cheered and the world didn't end. In fact, it probably just got a tiny bit better.

Totally worth not being able to have proper sensation in my hands for an hour after taking these photos.

And yes, things suck in Russia for GLBQ people. But 23 years ago I watched a university campus lose its mind over a gay safe sex supplement. So who knows what will happen in Russia in the future. We can only hope that in a few years, hoisting a Pride flag in St. Petersburg gets the same kind of reaction it got in Iqaluit on Monday.

Last Five
1. Anger is beauty - Hawksley Workman*
2. No son of mine - Genesis
3. Here, there and everywhere - The Beatles
4. No future shock - TV on the Radio
5. Constructive summer - The Hold Steady

1 comment:

John, Canberra AU said...

Good on you, Canada. The first country outside Europe to legalise same-sex marriage nationwide. New Zealand has it as well, as do an increasing number of US states.

Not Australia, though. Canberra/ACT tried it a few months ago, but the High Court struck it down. It's going to take federal legislation, which means it's unlikely with the current conservative government.

So thanks, Canada, especially Iqaluit, for showing some colour in the dead of winter.