As I was heading over to Food Basics to buy some Harvest Crunch (on sale at 2 boxes for $5 this week) I was halted for a few minutes by the Pride parade heading up Brock Street past the market.
I had a flashback to 1985, the first year I moved to Kingston, and the uproar that happened when two young men staged a “kiss-in” on the steps of City Hall on August 8.
I understand that the LGBT community had been appealing to the Kingston City Council to be able to hold pride celebrations of some sort for a couple of years and were being rebuked. In order to draw some attention, this kiss-in, in a kind of make-love-not-war theme, was organized on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in a kind of combination effort to promote some tolerance of sexual diversity and remind people that love is better than war.
The “ceremony” drew about 400 onlookers and the next day there was a photo on the front page of the Whig Standard. What followed was outrage. People threatened to cancel their paper for showing this “excessive and offensive” behaviour. “ It just made me feel like throwing up.” said one. “We were disgusted to see those two homosexuals in a loving embrace.” wrote another.
It took several years of requesting but finally in 1992, Mayor Helen Cooper proclaimed a Pride Day in Kingston.
This year, the walkway in front of City Hall has been painted in rainbow colours and the parade had hundreds of folks who believe that there is strength in diversity walking together through the streets – Businesses, Church groups, Military, police, friends and even our federal Member of Parliament (who happens to be the son of the mayor of the city in 1985).
Watching the cheerful and colourful parade pass by, it made me happy to know that our society has grown much more tolerant and accepting of diversity. I was also delighted last week to see this sign on a few lawns in Kingston and around the university. I am glad that my grandchildren will grow up in a society that acknowledges diversity as a strength, not a threat.
One would hope that we can continue to celebrate our differences – religious, sexual orientation, political, cultural, – rather than see them as divisive. Who knows, eventually, I may even become accepting of Toronto Maple Leafs fans.
You’ve written on this topic before, John. I looked up a blog you wrote in 2014 to find the comment I made then. I copy it here, because my feelings have not changed:
I’ve always felt that being gay is like being left handed. It is not a choice; it is different from the majority of the population, but it is still okay. Children were once punished for using their left hands. Now throughout the world people are being punished for their sexual orientation. When homophobia exists in the name of religion, it is beyond vile. On the global scene we have wars, natural disasters, poverty, crime, infectious diseases, terrorism, issues related to climate change, water and food scarcities, discrimination, hatred…all bad stuff. So why, when two people of the same sex, want to show love and support for each other, is it not viewed as a good thing?
Thankfully we are changing as a society…not all the way there yet…but becoming more tolerant of diversity. Kudos to Kingston for the very inclusive lawn signs.
I recall you having a DNA test and finding a Scottish ancestry. Your phrase 2 boxes for $5 proves that the test results are accurate. Sorry but I could not resist. Bob
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