Homophobes still out there, writer says

A voice from the inside presents a different perspective on LGBT situation in Victoria

Kermit the Frog told us it’s not that easy being green. Well, it’s not that easy being rainbow, either.

Often, it takes tremendous courage to be your true self. To stand in front of the crowd and say “I’m queer and I’m here.”

Like now. The barbarians are at the gate. They are rattling their sabres of hate and intolerance.

They toss spent bullet casings at the feet of gay men standing outside Paparazzi Nightclub and it is not a prank. It is not a bit of frat-boy, spring break-style buffoonery. It is an unveiled, cold and calculated threat.

Yet, perhaps in part because Victoria police Staff Sgt. Darren Laur says it is something he has “never seen” in his 27 years of policing, there appears to be a tendency to view it as a fleeting moment of madness. A one-off, if you will.

Indeed, the News, in an editorial on June 29, seems to suggest as much by telling us they “didn’t see that one incident as proof of a general lack of intolerance.” They went on to advise us that “such cases are rare these days, at least those involving police.”

In other words, “Hey, it happens once every 27 years. Everyone chill. Let’s talk about it again in 2039.”

Wrong. Do not go there.

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community navigate their way through spent bullet casings every day. Sometimes the empty shells arrive in the form of words spoken or written, as was the case in early June when homophobic signage was taped to a shop-front window in Fernwood. And when vile, venom-laced attack verbiage surfaced on the Internet and took direct aim at the ownership and management of Paparazzi.

Hateful words are no less frightening. No less hurtful. And no less alarming when they include threats of violence and death.

The sole difference is that spent bullet casings provide a more disquieting visual than words on a piece of paper or a website. You sit up and take notice of spent bullet casings. The police are summoned. Television cameras roll. People are on edge, knowing there might be a wingnut out there who likes to play with guns. So why trivialize it as “rare?”

The soul of the LGBT community has been vandalized and this incident is, among other things, a discomforting and disturbing backdrop to Pride Week, when the queer-as-folk crowd rally as one for nine days of innocent pomp, pageantry and frolic, that culminates with the annual parade through the streets of downtown Victoria on July 8.

It is also another harsh reminder of the reality that the battle for acceptance continues unabated.

Again referencing the News’ editorial, it mentions “how far we’ve come as a community in dispensing with biases and stigmas against people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning.”

The very notion that bias and stigma have vanished is a misguided piece of pollyanna. There has been no dispensing of bias and stigma. An easing, yes. A dispensing, no.

“No one should kid themselves that there is 100-per-cent acceptance of queers,” says Art Luney, owner of the Castle Video Bar and Nightclub, a gay venue above Paul’s Motor Inn. “There are forces that would like to see our rights diluted. We shouldn’t forget that. The war is not over. Not by a long shot.”

Does Victoria offer an LGBT-friendly environment? Absolutely.

I can walk our streets unobstructed. I am treated with respect, courtesy and friendship by patrons and staff in shops, banks, markets, medical offices and the mainstream restaurants and pubs I attend. But I still see the stares. I still hear the whispers. I am forever conscious of the periphery, always on the alert, my built-in radar scanning for the next volley of spent bullet casings to fall at my feet. Or at a gay friend’s feet.

And, as sure as the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, it will happen. Which is why we have Paparazzi, the Castle and The Ledge, the three main LGBT sanctuaries in town. It’s why we have Pride Week with its fabulous fixings.

This is an opportunity to celebrate Canadian freedoms, not just for the LGBT community, but for its many allies as well.

We all can take pride in a country that is a world leader in LGBT rights. A country secure enough in its own skin that it is sending a gay man, Mark Tewksbury, to London as chef de mission for the 300-plus Canadian contingent at the Olympic Games later this month and into August.

Most of all, it’s a time to take pride in one’s true self. To flex one’s amour propre.

Three distasteful incidents in one month tell us that the homophobes are on manoeuvres and that victory over the beast is not at hand.

We can always hope, however, that it’s somewhere over the rainbow.

Patti Dawn Swansson is a former Black Press reporter who underwent gender reassignment surgery in November 2009.

Just Posted

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is calling on Transport Canada to rescind its ban to Feb. 28, 2022 on cruise ship stops in Canada, to allow planning to begin in advance of a reopening of the cruise industry next year.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO hopes cruises will resume by 2022

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read