It was a trying time to be a homosexual in the 1970′s in Canada and all over the world.
Coming out of the closet didn’t mean just the possible loss of relationships, but loss of jobs, social status, relationships, friendships, families, or even physical brutality from the same authority that was supposed to protect you.
The era wore on seeing little improvement. Until one day it reached critical mass and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and queer individuals alike broke from the shadows and with one voice called for “Equality!”
But equality is not won easily. Equality only comes when the hearts and minds of the citizens of Canada are swayed to your cause. When parents no longer shun queer daughters and sons. When citizens are no longer judged by who they sleep with. When hurt and judging looks are no longer cast sideways as a same sex couple, holding hands crosses the street. And so, together as one they turned their voices to equal rights; to be included in legislature. They rallied for the right to keep jobs, marry whomever they chose, have families with lives and loves and rights like everyone else they passed on the streets.
They emptied into the streets, gaining momentum as they marched until they were 2,000 strong marching on the capital demanding rights; to be human beings under the law. They marched into the darkness knowing that riot control may be around every corner. They could already feel the sting of the tear gas in their eyes, but they had the courage to keep moving.
Many rallies in Canada were dispersed with tear gas and riot control.
But they kept on marching. And wave upon wave of people would push against the riot control, challenging the authorities that refused to see them as people.
They marched because no one else would do it for them.
And they won. Here in Canada there are equal rights under the law.
But there still is no equality.
I watched a news report a little while ago where an over coiffed brunette relayed the events of a boy being beaten for being gay.
Some of his fellow students sought him out late at night, cornered him in the dark and beat him. They looked into his eyes with hate because of who he chose to love: a boy from a few schools over. They took magic markers to his chest and wrote horrible obscenities and left him in the dark, bloodied and alone. A clear message being sent: Equality is dead.
I sit here reeling and disappointed. It seems as if we have taken a hundred steps backward today. But now there isn’t a government to stand and rally against. Only individual human beings who will not be swayed to reason. How can you fight against hate in people’s hearts? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve witnessed it myself. In fact, isn’t this the very reason that I began my photography business? Because I stood to the side and watched as equality was denied? And so took up the cause of our rights?
I took it up because if I cannot force equality, than at the very least I can support our rights.
And yet I am surprised. I’m surprised at humanity. At how often we seem to struggle with the same issues time and time again. Why is it that history continues to repeat itself with the majority thinking it is superior to the minority? Why does one group of people rise up against another? Why do they refuse to see that regardless of colour or sexual orientation all people are PEOPLE and end the story there.
Equality only comes when we see in terms of people not orientations or colours or religions. Equality comes when religions begin following the philosophy of love that THEY preach. Equality comes when we all adopt a change of pace.
I don’t know when that day will come, but I keep praying it is soon.