Ottawa
2 min

Taking a summertime breather

For most young people, summer means working lots, spending lots, saving for school for those university and college folk, and having fun in general before school comes back and brings us back to reality

For now, we are still safe. Having finally legalized same-sex marriage, our community may once again take a breather from the tension, arguments and debates – for now. Of course, many things happen in our queer world over the summer, such as the never-ending season of Pride festivities, which allows us to celebrate our political victory in style. Still, it doesn’t hurt to make a to-do list.

Same-sex marriage was a victory. I was surprised to find myself emotional while watching the vote (yes, I’m dorky that way). Yet, why shouldn’t we bear witness to a political landmark as noteworthy as the decriminalization of gay persons? Sure it’s no moon landing, but considering the climate toward queers even 10 to 15 years ago, it’s a big step. Despite the ongoing rumblings of Stephen Harper (give it up man, let it go), we can be assured that same-sex marriage will be around for a while.

But we must remember always that progress isn’t linear. So, it is a good time to switch gears and collectively focus on some other issues of importance. To start with, and my favourite topic: queer youth. With back-to-school looming, we must address homophobiain schools. Last year, students and educators took part in workshops about combatting homophobia (organized and assisted by a group of queer-focussed service providers as well the Rainbow Youth Advisory Committee). Let’s hope that our schools implement many of the ideas that came from that.

How about those bar-scene alternatives? It would be nice to get more of those going on, too. More on that some other time.

We can always pay more attention to transgender and transsexual matters of concern. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people are faced, after all, with the same force of discrimination rooted in understanding of sex, gender and the roles assigned to them. The promotion of gender-queer concepts, as well as funding for sex-reassignment surgery, might also float to the top of our list of to-dos.

(*While we’re at it, we should add biphobia and misogyny to our list of things that we should look into more closely. On a related note, a friend wanted me to make known her pet peeve: just because you’re a gay man doesn’t give you the right to grab breasts randomly without permission. It doesn’t matter that the breasts belong to a lesbian. Ask first!)

We should add racism to our list of things to look at. Yes, it’s still out there. Just because queers are part of an oppressed group does not mean that our community doesn’t have to address other forms of discrimination. It wouldn’t hurt to challenge our attitudes as well. Just because a person is of an ethnic minority does not mean that they do not have assumptions about race/ethnicity. And they’re not necessarily just about white people.

We might want to address barriers facing queers with disabilities. There happens to be a whole range of things we could talk about here. I’ll just mention two: end the myth that people with mobility disabilities (especially those who use a wheelchair) are void of sexuality. Everyone gets randy. Second, I know it’s costly and that bars in the past have been willing to do their best, but maybe a little more accessibility. A ramp/elevator’s not bad, but the washroom’s gotta get done too.

By the way: did everyone notice that we have a new queer bar in town: Pink on Rideau Street? Its front door is, well, pink.