Wednesday, May 29, 2024
May 29, 2024

Editorial: Proud and louder Pride Festival

Full-fledged Salt Spring Pride celebrations return to the island next weekend after a pandemic-forced hiatus, and they promise to be bigger and bolder than ever.

Music, dance and drama will be part of the fun, of course, both on the core all-weekend festival site of the Salt Spring Farmers’ Institute and in the streets of Ganges during the parade and aftermath on the steps of the library on Saturday. But in light of recent events around the world and unfortunately close to home as well, the 2023 Salt Spring Pride Festival organized by Diverse and Inclusive Salt Spring Island (DAISSI) has a more serious side too.

The recent backlash and political activism aimed at reversing human rights advances made in the past few decades cannot be left unchallenged. As festival volunteer and longtime activist Robert Birch points out in a DAISSI welcome message on page 7 of this paper, “relentless, daily attacks” are being endured by trans and queer individuals worldwide. According to the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign organization, more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in 41 of the 50 U.S. states in 2023 so far — many targetting young people — with 70 of them already becoming law.

Putting aside religious groups’ rationale for gender oppression, our society seems addicted to defining and pursuing an ideal “norm.” From birth, many children are pressured to fit some kind of image of a normal and “successful” person. It seems the further one’s offspring stray from the strict path of “normal,” which would traditionally include identifying as heterosexual, the more stress parents experience.

But it doesn’t take much observation and reflection as an adult to realize that “normal” is a marketing illusion, and we have learned much about gender matters in recent decades. Humans are naturally and thankfully unique and diverse. In nature and human communities, diversity is essential and where it’s at.

Salt Spring’s Pride Festival offers lots of opportunities for everyone to celebrate diversity and inclusion, and to learn more about current issues and actions that can be taken to face the backlash and support the island’s young people. See the schedule in this week’s paper for details or saltspringpridefestival.ca.

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