This past weekend marked the 28th instalment of the Calgary Pride Festival, which has grown to the fourth largest celebration of the LGBTQ2S+ community since it began in 1991.
As populist idealism grows (at least in a distorted sense of the populism's meaning) there is a loud and vocal minority who have decided to lace social media, news page comments sections and niche blogs, with inane statements like "straights matter too" or something equally absurd. The statements imply the promotion of the rights of a marginalized group somehow infringes on the rights of the privileged majority.
We probably should have included a trigger warning before using the word privileged, as it's a statement that seems to get the demographics it might include frothing at the mouth and ranting about how they are now being oppressed by minority groups.
Rights are not like pie. Granting one group of people more (read equal) rights does not diminish the rights of another – unless you are among those who believe their race, religion or social standing entitle them to more based on some perception of moral superiority. In fact, the only thing being taken away from people is their past freedom to overtly hate people – a freedom they should have never had.
For those who ask why we need to promote awareness of rights for a community representing less than five per cent of the population, the question is also the answer. It shouldn't matter how many people identify as LGBTQ2S+. There shouldn't be a magic threshold of population where you suddenly earn the right to be treated like everyone else.
Similarly, the fact there are still debates and questions surrounding same-sex marriage demonstrates the need to continuously advocate for LGBTQ2S+ rights. As long as people question whether same-sex marriage should be legal, the risk exists for it to be taken away. In fact, as long as people continue debating the legitimacy of being LBTQ2S+, the fight for equality will never end.
The fact there are still young people who are terrified of "coming out" and that suicide rates among LGBTQ2S+ youth are more than four times higher than their non-LGBTQ2S+ counterparts, illustrates why safe and inclusive places and celebration of the LGBTQ2S+ community are still needed.
The notion of inclusivity has come under significant attack lately as pride events have begun barring groups such as uniformed police from attending. Mostly, the justification is past and ongoing discrimination the LGBTQ2S+ community feels it receives from police services. To their credit, police services, such as the City of Calgary's (CPS), have begun working toward mending those relationships. In 2018, the CPS apologized for its past discrimination against the LGBTQ2S+ community and it has established the Sexuality and Gender Diversity Chief’s Advisory Board "to encourage and support safe and inclusive communities, nurture a positive image, and foster trust, respect and integrity."
While we look forward to the day police officers, especially those who identify as LGBTQ2S+ and have likely face their own discrimination, can march in the parade proudly in uniform. However, we understand that the environment is supposed to be a safe space for the LGBTQ2S+ community and those relationships need to be mended first.