As I write this blog post, the World Pride 2014 festivities in Toronto are well under way. My wife and I don’t live in the gay village, so our only visual reminder of the celebrations is the rainbow flag that we have attached to our porch railing. Fifteen years ago we wouldn’t have made that blatant statement of not only support, but of belonging. We chose when, how, and how far we would open ourselves up to possible discrimination.
But times have changed, and along with the changes our security in who we are has grown to the point where we don’t think about living our lives as out and proud lesbians, anymore than our neighbours think about living their straight lives . This, of course, is possible to a large extent, because we live in a country that has pioneered civil rights for its LGBTQI community. We also benefit by residing in a city that welcomes diversity, whether it be cultural, religious, or sexual.
It’s due to this freedom that I am able to write what I write. I am both lucky and privileged. One need only look at what is happening right now to LGBTQI individuals in certain parts of the world, or remember the heartache and struggles involved in the gaining of rights our community now enjoys, to understand why.
Calli Barnow, the protagonist in my mysteries, only exists because I am able to freely chronicle her life as an out lesbian. She has faced homophobia, even close to home, but as society has changed so has the path of her personal life. She openly enjoys a loving relationship and the prospects of a family life. These things would have been impossible here not long ago, and in many places still remain only a dream. Even so, the spectre of discrimination still lurks in the shadows of Calli’s days, lest she or we become too comfortable with our tenuous equality.
On Saturday, June 28 I will be taking part in a World Pride Proud Voices event. The week-long Proud Voices and Literary Program is hosted by Glad Day Bookshop, the world’s longest-surviving LGBTQI bookstore, and a huge supporter of my writing. As I read and discuss my work tomorrow morning, I know I will have fun, as I always do. I also know that at the back of my mind there will be that little voice saying, “You are in a special place, and this is a special time – a place and a time to celebrate, to remember, and to look ahead to all that has yet to be done.”
Happy World Pride!
Check out the World Pride events at Glad Day Bookshop.
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