By Darren Lum
We all care about things that are close to us.
I think back to 2013 when Haliburton County came together when the Gull River overran its banks, leaving homes and businesses in downtown Minden and other parts of the area flooded. It was friends helping friends, and, more importantly, neighbours helping neighbours. This was clear the spring flooding wouldn’t be the end of us, but a continuation of the compassion and generosity that is possible when Highlands’ resident care about each other. We didn’t expect anyone to come to our rescue and united for a cause. This is the small town character I have grown to love and appreciate, particularly because I grew up in the suburbs where neighbourly help wasn’t always present.
Then again, some outside help did come when the light shone bright on the community in the wake of the flooding. The subsequent fundraisers led to thousands of relief dollars being raised, including by those who came from outside the community. How this played out was an example of what a community can do when it cares.
We need to do this again, except this time it’s for the LGBTQ2+ community who are facing more and more hate online and in-person.
From reading the past few issues of the Times, it’s easy to see I’m behind Minden Pride 100 per cent and ally of the LGBTQ2+ community. I not only believe in inclusivity and love, but I know someone in my life who is gay and has shared with me the challenges he faced while growing up, which came from others, his parents and internally.
He was a teen of the 1980s, which wasn’t a time of inclusiveness or understanding of different people – we’re not even talking just about being gay. I remember him telling me how a guidance counsellor seemed confused by how his math marks weren’t higher than they were.
‘Aren’t you people supposed to be good at math?’ his guidance counsellor asked him. The ‘you people’ was referring to him being Chinese. I guess he missed the memo. And, apparently, so did I – Hello, journalism.
His father used to introduce his partners as “friends” in Chinese because he didn’t want to explain. I can’t imagine these repeated actions and behaviour about nonacceptance does to a person, but I imagine it’s not good.
When it comes to a teen having to deal with the struggles of life, but add to it the challenge of accepting your homosexuality and all that it entails, I don’t know why anyone would “choose” that for themselves, as if it were a choice you want to make. I was told he considered suicide many times, believing then it was an option worth considering.
I don’t know how one processes the internal struggle of wanting to kill oneself because of the multitude of hatred directed by others, who want to exclude someone they don’t know and hate them for what they don’t understand.
According to Statistics Canada (from 2018), there are close to one million people who are part of the LGBTQ2+ community, which accounts for four per cent of total population aged 15 and older.
Why extend any hate to so many? But, then again, hatred on any level to any number does no one any good, even the hater.
Let’s not add to the struggles of people who are part of the LGBTQ2+ community. Let’s help by showing support and acceptance. I don’t expect everyone to accept everything, but I hope that tolerance can be extended and want to believe people who don’t understand are open to learning, to see how what is different isn’t scary.
Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are. It’s a cold place to be when left out. I haven’t always got along with this family member, but I’ve always loved him. I stand with him always. Just like I stand with Minden Pride.