A Sound Off from July 10 responded to a StatsCan finding that gay hate crimes are more likely to involve violence. The author suggested that “(gays) flaunting their sexual orientation with parades and open celebrations will only encourage reaction from non-believers and radicals.”
This comment follows a letter to the editor published on July 3 by Will Baker, a community men’s rights activist, who also suggests that those who identify as anything other than straight tone down their displays of sexuality to avoid propagating stereotypes about themselves.
The comments first mentioned in this letter perpetuate the heterosexist and racist views that colonialism has utilized to shape our society. These views define what is normal, and further describes what are and are not appropriate displays of sexuality. These views are shaped primarily by straight white men.
By these standards, we come to accept men walking around shirtless so long as they encapsulate the masculine ideal. We accept the objectification of women in advertising, though this also has a racial element (sexy versus rachet) that determines its class appeal. It is OK to frequent bars and pubs with scantily clad women as servers. These forms of sexual expression are seen as normal and are acceptable to the general public.
But put queer people into these same situations and it is seen as offensive. Parents suddenly feel the need to protect their children from “subversive” images (why is it always about the children?) of Pride parades, while allowing them to be exposed to media that is far more detrimental to their views of healthy sexuality.
Instead of using sexuality as a tool to empower people, for example in Pride parades, media and advertising create a hierarchy of power, and sexuality is used as a tool to control others. We give children a clear message about sexuality: it is an important tool to use if you are straight in order to get what you want, but be ashamed and hide it if you do not conform to society’s oppressive ideas about how men and women should look and act.
As a young person, I want to live in a community that accepts others. My generation has mobility in ways that other generations did not. If Brandon is seriously concerned about its ability to retain intelligent young people, then it needs to make young people feel welcome for who they are and not send the message that they need to change to be accepted or to feel safe in their own community.
To insinuate that violence is to be expected if one chooses to flaunt their sexual orientation is abhorrent. Instead of telling people to repress their sexuality and signs of their sexual orientation in order to fit into a societal belief that heterosexuality is the only acceptable option, our community needs to work together to encourage our young people to develop into the best people they can be.
Becoming a good person includes a lot of things — morality, intelligence, kindness, volunteerism — but it does not include sexual orientation or expression.