Today marks a day to stand against discrimination and for respect of all people, it is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. The Trudeau government is expected to introduce legislation to include "gender identity" in the Canadian Human Rights Act alongside race, sexual orientation, and gender.
When one thinks of Jamaica, two things immediately come to mind and it's not Bob Marley and Usain Bolt this time around. Rather, it's dancehall music and homophobia -- two things which are one and the same. So it was quite shocking when Jamaicans and residents from other Caribbean islands learned that the son of Mr. Ninja Man, a popular dancehall artist, was gay.
George Clark is pretty easy to laugh off. But when March 8 rolled around, I found myself on the Alberta Legislature grounds with a crowd of a couple hundred overwhelmingly white people gathered for George Clark's glorious revolution. And while it started out as funny, by the time it was over it had gotten a little scary.
This Sunday, the 88th annual Academy Awards will air. One film that will garner considerable attention at the ceremonies will be Carol, which earned an impressive six Oscar nominations in categories that include Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie is an adaptation of The Price of Salt, a 1952 romance novel by Patricia Highsmith, which was written at a time where lesbian fiction could be deemed obscene and seized by the authorities if the women were not portrayed as misguided, making choices that led to a bad end.
Coldplay, along with Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, gave one of the best performances the halftime show has ever seen with the simple yet powerful message, "Believe in Love." This fueled a reaction that is quite common to members of the LGBT community. To put it gently, the homophobes went to work all across the virtual world.
As we speak, there are thousands of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folks from across the world who are not able to spend Christmas with their families this year. They have been beaten, cursed at and made to feel like they do not belong, leading them to say goodbye to their family and friends.
The holiday season is truly a magical time of year. It is a time for giving, reflection, and appreciation. Many individuals and organizations come together and show thanks by donating what they can to those in need. Unfortunately, the holidays will not be magical for everyone, especially not for a high proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and 2-Spirit (LGBTQ2S) youth who have experienced familial, societal, and institutional rejection. The holidays can be an especially lonely time for many, particularly for those without a safe place to call home.
If it is not right to host Islamophobic or white supremacist speakers, then it is not right to host Muslim supremacist, homophobic and transphobic speakers. Indeed, all zulm (oppression) is connected. Muslims overwhelmingly condemn ISIS. However, according to Muslim human rights activist, Shafiqah Othman Hamza, it is not enough to quote Qur'anic verses on peace while ignoring the systemic persecution and discrimination of minorities.
A vicious cycle of hate seems to have been engendered where hatred of the West feeds the hatred of Islam. The way out of this hate is by looking within instead of pointing fingers at others. Some people do not care for such a nuanced understanding. They look for simplistic answers to complex problems.
After being chastised by my own country of birth for coming out as a lesbian in April of this year and speaking out against the discrimination and harassment I had endured, I began to think that our Caribbean LGBTQ community would simply have to crawl back into our holes of pain and isolation and with muzzles over our mouths. That was until Marlon James!
How can Muslim LGBT lead the dialogue if a majority amongst them segregate their lives from conservative spaces? The importance of dialogue within conservative Muslim communities cannot be over-emphasized. Such a dialogue will have to be part of a much-needed internal critique, for outside solutions may be rejected as anti-Muslim bigotry.
The month of Pride is a time for LGBTQ2S individuals to not only say who we are; but to also celebrate and be proud of who we are. Pride month is meant to remind us that we are real and that we matter, however, not all members of our community are seen; not all are celebrated; many are silenced and marginalized, made to feel that they are not real and that they do not belong.
A cabinet minister who said something racist or homophobic would almost certainly be fired. The same should hold true for a shadow cabinet member. If the Conservatives at Queen's Park are serious about being a queer-friendly party, symbolism and slacktivism will not cut it. They should discipline MPP Monte McNaughton for his repeated homophobia, and for breaking caucus policy, which is ostensibly in favour of the new sex-ed curriculum. It is important to note that McNaughton is no backbencher; he has the critic portfolio of international trade. He should be striped of his critic portfolio.