Gay Friendly Canada
IGLTA Conference 2018
As we prepared to publish our 15th annual Gay Friendly Canada Guide, we had a few moments of reflection and review, starting first with the name. When we first began publishing our Vancouver guides, over seventeen years ago, Gay was the most common umbrella term used to describe our community at the time, so we chose it for our Canada guide as well, and have continued to use it ever since.
Things continued to evolve over the years, with Gay & Lesbian starting to be used more frequently, to distinguish between issues that were different for men and women, and with the addition of the Bisexual and Transgender communities we began using GLBT more frequently. A short time later, things evolved further and LGBT became the more frequently used term. Queer and questioning started to become the term of choice for some in the new millennium, thus we added the Q to become LGBTQ. In recognition of Intersex, Two-Spirit and Asexual people the acronym grew to become LGBTQI2A. As well, in an effort to continue to be inclusive without leaving out our important allies, the plus sign was added to become LGBTQI2A+ and we expect here will continue to be changes as society evolves.
Fortunately for us, we live in Canada, which remains one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBTQI2A+ rights and freedoms. Although not perfect and there is still work to be done, great progress has been made over the past sixty years or so.
However, this was not always the case, as the nation was reminded in late November, 2017, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an historic apology to LGBTQI2A+ Canadians. The reason for this apology was an effort to formally acknowledge and apologize for the historic wrongs that were perpetrated against LGBTQI2A+ Canadians for decades, including imprisonment, public shaming, job and career loss, diagnoses of mental illness, and even electroshock therapy.
With the rise of right-wing populism in various parts of the world in this day and age, it reminds us of the importance of our Pride events and how relevant they still are today. Some have become blasé and disinterested with these events, as things become easier and more inclusive for all as the result of the work of our pioneers, but a scan of the latest news on any given day will remind us of just how fragile these rights and freedoms are.
Fortunately for us as well, the Pride movement continues to spread and grow across Canada, with over seventy of our celebrations now being enjoyed by people from all walks of life, from coast to coast. It’s heartening to see so many individuals, politicians, companies, organizations and whole families, with moms, dads, children and even pets embracing the celebrations, and sporting rainbow flags and colours.
With the Pride flag now being raised in Ottawa on Parliament Hill and the top politician in the country making an effort to march in our Pride parades, it’s a good time to call Canada home. Keep up the good work Canada!