May 17, 2014 is the International Day Against Homophobia. Open up your mind.
May 17 is marked as International Day Against Homophobia because, over 20 years ago, on May 17 1993, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Thirteen years ago I came from a country (a former Soviet Union and then Ukraine) where gays “did not exist”, were virtually unseen in the day light and considered to be “outcasts” of the society. We moved to Vancouver where the LGBTQ folks are present in day-to-day life, and even more prominent during the Pride Week in the summer. We came to the city where the LGBTQ community has always been a strong advocate for their rights, and where City Council strikes the LQBTQ Advisory Committee to enhance access for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities to fully participate in City services.
It was a journey for me to be able to shift my views on those with different sexual orientations. These views were strongly entrenched into my value system through not-so-progressive-on-social-justice-and-tolerance schooling back in my home country. Yet, here in Vancouver, I met some beautiful, intelligent people whom I had a lot in common with other than our sexual orientations. In fact, I have realized that I had enjoyed our conversations and time together with them more than with some of my “straight” friends. I’ve also seen some kids in my daughter’s school who had two moms or dads and who were happy, cheeky kids and did not stand out from other children other than, somehow, in many cases, they were more just and polite than the rest of the crowd. I have learnt that it does take efforts to open up your mind and change your opinion about anything you believed in or thought you believed in. Hence, I chose to educate myself and read more about the LGBTQ community and recently I came across a very interesting and SAD reading. I hope it will help other people to shed light on their fears, confusion and lack of understanding on what these folks, and particularly kids are going through to be who they are. Read about 2011 Eagle Canada Human Rights Trust Report.
Tags: children, discrimination, gender, homophobia, LGBTQ, students, unsafe, Vancouver, youth