Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia which is a phobic mouthful. Except that this is a day to move beyond fear rather than participate in fear-based exclusion and violence. This is the day that our Canadian federal government will introduce legislation protecting transsexual persons in this country.
It will be interesting to see what this will entail and what the response of more conservative Canadians will be. Our experience in introducing legal protection for gays and lesbians, and making provision for same-gender marriage has likely paved the way for a general level of acceptance. There is still fear, however, around some of the practical realities, including the use of washrooms. In the United States there have been phobic reactions in some states, with odd and exclusive legislation being passed. This has resulted in some companies withdrawing from those jurisdictions, and the locations of sporting events taken out of state.
I have written before about my own experience of realizing that just because I don't initially understand certain things, including nonconventional sexual identification and orientation doesn't mean that they are wrong. I need to look inside first, rather than externalize my fear or confusion. I do so because I follow Jesus, who saw people for who they were when others couldn't or wouldn't. And in the end he died a painful, unjust death because his wide circle of compassion was seen as a threat.
In a few weeks Bridge St UC will host the Belleville LGBT highs school prom for a second year. I welcomed the young people last year and it was a moving moment for me. These were teens who had often been rejected by their peers who just wanted to enjoy an environment where they were accepted and could be themselves. I was glad that our Christian congregation could provide that venue.