In celebration of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, as well as the 50 year anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexual relations in the Canada, Kamloops Pride Society raised the rainbow flag joining as one of the dozens of communities across Canada to do so.
President of the Kamloops Pride Society, Sam Numsen, led the crowd in a history lesson of the trials and triumphs of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
In May 1969, the Government of Canada partially decriminalized homosexual relations and while not 100 per cent perfect, this was a huge step in the right direction. Today, the LGBTQ2S+ community still faces resistance in their on-going fight for equality.
“With all these leaps forward, we still see acts of resistance towards the LGBTQ2S+ community in order to stand up for their rights, their safety and ultimately their humanity,” Numsen said, “Many things have changed yes, but they haven’t changed enough.”
Adopted in 1978 as the official flag of the LGBTQ2+ community, the rainbow flag is a strong symbol of the LGBTQ2+ cause. Kamloops Pride Society raised the rainbow flag along with many other communities in collaboration with Standing by our Colours.
Local Kamloops activist, D.J. Clarke, spoke openly about her experiences as a proud member of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
“When I came out to my co-workers, someone said ‘well just don’t butch it up too much’,” Clarke said, “Build a bridge and get over it. I’m queer, I’m here, get used to it.”
Clarke shared the same sentiments as Numsen in terms of room for growth in Canada
“There’s so much good that’s happened in the last 50 years for our community but unfortunately there are world events in countries where the LGBT2S+ people are being openly denied their basic human rights,” Clarke said, “Doctors are given permission not to treat someone because of their sexual identity. And the war on women, don’t even get me started.”
In a world where an estimated 70 countries still view homosexuality as a criminal and punishable by prison or even death, Numsen urges communities to band together and pledge a life of kindness and empathy.
“I hope you will make a pledge as we’re gathered here, standing by our colours, to call out hatred and bigotry where we see it, to live with an open mind and practice empathy and to advocate for those in need who don’t have the power, privilege or position to advocate for themselves,” Numsen said.