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Pride, Orlando, and the fight before us

I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve never felt unsafe being who I am.

When I came out to the world two years ago, I wasn’t worried about my safety. I wasn’t worried about my future opportunities. I wasn’t worried that my life or my potential could be impacted by who I love. I was never afraid that someone would try to hurt me, or kill me, because of who I was. It was, after all, 2014. I thought the days of fear were behind us and that the days of intolerance were quickly coming to an end. The brave LGBTQ community of the past cleared the path for my generation. They fought the hardest battles of acceptance, tolerance, and human rights. Their victories made it easier for me to come out and live my life.

Of course, I knew it wasn’t over. I knew there was still stigma and prejudice to fight. But for the most part, I believed I could live my life safe, happy, and accepted.

I’ve learned a lot since then.

I first realized the magnitude of the struggle ahead of us the first time I encountered homophobia directed at me. It was a few months after I came out in the midst of the 2014 Ontario general election, and I was working hard to elect Ontario’s first LGBTQ Premier when I received a text message from my younger sister. She had posted a status on Facebook supportive of an Ontario Liberal policy and someone was debating it with her. She was asking me to help her in this debate. Ironically enough, this particular comment thread was on gun control. The debate started off respectful, but eventually, the commenter started making derogatory comments about my sexuality and my partner. I had never met this man, nor had my partner. I had never spoken to him before in my life. Our debate was about gun control, not LGBTQ rights.

I remember the feelings I experienced during this exchange. I didn’t feel hurt. I didn’t feel victimized. I felt angry. I could feel the anger through my whole body. I felt shock that someone who didn’t even know me could say such hateful things about me. And I felt embarrassed. I was embarrassed by the things he was saying about me. I was embarrassed that my family, friends, and coworkers could see the things he was saying about me. He made me embarrassed of who I was. And that made me even more embarrassed.

That changed quickly. The people around me rallied to my support. My family defended me online. My sister blocked the bigot on Facebook. My friends and colleagues around me at work supported me. I didn’t feel anger anymore. They made me feel pride in my community and pride in the allies around me. I didn’t feel shock anymore. I felt welcome. Even my embarrassment changed. I still felt it, but I wasn’t embarrassed of who I was anymore. Instead I was embarrassed for the bigot – so wrong, backward, and hateful in his views and he couldn’t even see it.

It was then that I realized the fight isn’t over. The struggle against intolerance and bigotry was ongoing.

The next critical moment in my experience coming out came when my partner and I were planning a cruise in the Caribbean. Our ship was scheduled to stop in Jamaica, so we were researching the nation to decide what we wanted to do with our day there. My heart broke as I read about the abuses faced by the LGBTQ community in a country where one can be imprisoned just for being with the person they love. We read story after story of innocent people being imprisoned or even killed because of who they are and who they love. We decided to stay on the ship while we were in this port, not because we were scared, but because we refused to support the economy of a nation that allowed this kind of intolerance and abuse.

It was then that I realized the fight isn’t over. The struggle for human rights for all is ongoing.

On June 12, like the rest of the world, I woke up to the news that 49 innocent people were murdered in Orlando. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in the news. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to believe that someone could murder 49 people – destroy 49 families – because of who they are and who they love. For the first time I felt afraid because of who I was. The more I learned about the tragedy, the more disheartened I became. These victims could have easily been me or people close to me had these murders happened in Toronto, Ottawa, or Montreal.

I was shocked, saddened, angry, and disturbed. But I also felt a sense of community rallying together. Not just LGBTQ people, but allies too. Politicians, celebrities, coworkers, friends, and strangers coming together to show support for the LGBTQ community and the 49 people whose lives and potential were cut all too short. Together, we were grieving the innocent lives lost.

It’s easy to look at this tragedy and feel fear. It’s easy to stay away from pride events and the LGBTQ community for fear of attacks like this, but doing so is a victory for the monsters who seek to tear us down. Their actions seek to inspire fear in us and our communities. Instead, let us rally together. Let us support one another. Let’s remember the men and women killed in Orlando, but let’s not let fear hold us back. Let us fight together to end the intolerance, bigotry, and abuse that seeks to tear us down.

The fight isn’t over, but together, we can overcome even this tragedy.

Published inPersonal


  1. Jennah Jennah

    What an insightful and well-written post! 💕

  2. Megan (your cousin) Megan (your cousin)

    It is not a surprise you are in communications for work. You had a talent in writing and expressing yourself. Very good opinion piece ! Never stop standing up for your beliefs !

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