As much as I craved my mother's warm embrace, the smell of the sea and the happy moments that I did share with my partner in our home, I couldn't help but wonder if my homophobic attackers were still around. And that uncertainty - coupled with the fact that our love is still considered a crime there - was my wake-up call.
Recently, with rising Islamophobia, a Muslim child was threatened on school grounds by someone wearing a mask. Though schools may see themselves as "neutral," the sense of safety and well-being of many children continues to be hijacked with the ongoing rhetoric of political leaders and increasing hate incidents and crimes.
We are very fortunate that we live in Canada, more so Toronto, where we feel it is a progressive, open, accepting city. It is legal for gay people to live freely, marry whomever they love, and start a family. We are a family, just like any family out there. It is not OK to harass anyone based on their sexual orientation or for any other reason.
As I watched the saga surrounding Kim Burrell's homophobic sermon unfold over the last week, I made several attempts to speak about it and could not. Why? Because I was afraid of what might have come out of my big lesbian mouth. I was too furious to write and I wanted this piece to reflect the ideals of my rainbow family.
Somewhere deep inside I knew he would achieve this goal, but I didn't expect it to completely uncover the true face of America that many have long ignored and continue to ignore. Trump not only won over the hearts of many Americans, but he pulled all the champions of hate and division out of their holes.... I fear that this Trump "movement" will slip its way into Canada and fuel the fire in those who have long remained quiet or polite about their shared vision for a divided community of people where only some lives matter and deserve basic human rights.
It is no secret that state policies in this country continue to be influenced by the church. The very constitution is built on the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. So how can a government say it protects members of the LGBT community when this type of blatant discrimination is being encouraged and spread through the media?
For those of you who grew up in a later era (or, perhaps, haven't fully caught up with the rest of Canadian society since those heady days), let me remind you why critics urged guys to burn their tight denim and labelled men who wore the style as less-than: skinny jeans were feminine, and feminine -- for guys -- means "bad." Substitute any other vaguely feminine trend, from floral prints to makeup for men, and it's the same story. But we've made so much progress since then, right?
When I was approached about being one of the hosts for the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival's LGBT Love screening, I said yes without hesitating simply because I am a proud Caribbean lesbian and LGBT activist living in Canada who loves everything queer. (When you see my outfit, you'll understand.)
When civilized society feels OK about demonizing others in the name of tolerance, you have a problem that doesn't necessarily require Donald Trump to become president to alienate much of the population. When the politics of resentment comes from the Left, the Right, and even the Centre, the road to democratic decline appears like an open freeway.
I don't know about you, but if I just created history for my country on a world stage and my fellow citizens reacted by calling me derogatory names that could potentially put my life in danger, I would seriously think about moving to another country. Sadly, Jamaican athlete Omar McLeod was not so lucky.
Like it or not, Canada is a country that celebrates freedom of expression. Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "Everyone has freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication." That "Everyone" includes people who say objectionable, false, foolish, misguided, or even ugly things.
Post-Orlando, mainstream Muslim groups have begun to express open solidarity with the LGBT community. Muslims and LGBT communities have even broken bread together in Toronto and Dublin. This societal shift bolsters Kugle's affirmation of LGBT Muslims, which the guardians of "Abrahamic morality" perceive as threatening.
Homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia remain rampant in most institutional settings, including schools, healthcare facilities, and shelters and housing programs. LGBTQ2S youth remain largely overrepresented in the homeless youth population, with estimates as high as up to 40 per cent of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ2S.