You know, it’s hard seeing the shit in the world everyday, being faced with people’s bigotry at every turn. So often we come across some kind of dumbassery and are faced with trying to explain why it’s crap to those who will make excuses for it. It can be maddening. It can be depressing. Those of us who work for social justice, whether officially, unofficially, or just interpersonally, can get bogged down by seeing all this shite. Sometimes, fleetingly, I wish I didn’t see what I see, or know what I know. Surely I’d be happier going along with the patriarchy? Being a social justice advocate of any stripe hurts because we see what others and/or ourselves are subject to. We see hate being ignored, or seen as funny. It can be depressing, being this awake. Of course, we would never change it, because by being awake we are also getting free.
In the last year or so I’ve been distinctly aware of needing to see some kind of progress, somewhere, if only for my sanity. How else do we not give up on humans altogether? So I try to note the good, along with the bad. Remembering the good can be helpful in arguments as well, as it can function as a contrast to what you’re fighting against, thus highlighting the inequities further. The comments made by legislators in Iowa recently, for example. After California’s Proposition 8, to see states come around to recognizing the legitimacy of gay and lesbian relationships gives us hope. It can also give us a place to live in our own country that’s somewhat less bigoted!
For myself, being Canadian, I don’t need to move to somewhere else in Canada to be able to marry my girlfriend, thank god. It was only in 2005 that Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same sex marriage federally. Our MPs voted on it twice, actually, the first time as the federal Liberal Party, headed by Paul Martin, tabled the bill initially, and the second time as our current PM, Stephen Harper, held a re-vote as he had promised in his election campaign (the Conservative Party had argued that the first vote wasn’t a free one, that Liberal MPs had to vote along party lines). For the record, the second, free, vote resulted in more MPs voting for same sex marriage than the first time around, even with the Conservatives in power. Ha!
I don’t mean to imply that Canada, or even my little corner of it, is free from homophobia because it most certainly isn’t. Violence is still an issue for the LGBT community, as is public harassment. However, on the bright side of things – as an indication of how things are getting better – Marc Dalton, a local politician who is running in our upcoming provincial elections has been outed (ahem) as saying some crap about homosexuality being a “moral” issue, like… oh I dunno, abortion! or adultery! So them gays shouldn’t be allowed to have gay clubs in high school (what his old email was in reference to, apparently). He’s a religious man, you see. Well, he said this some time ago, and someone has brought it to light. And he’s been getting a lot of crap for it and calls to step down from running in the election! He’s running for the provincial Liberal Party, who, while they share a name with the federal Liberals, aren’t really all that Liberal – so apparently his bigotry isn’t a problem. Their leader, Gordon Campbell, asked another political candidate to resign after some inappropriate FaceBook pictures came to light. But he’s said nothing about this guy. Goofing off on FaceBook = fired! saying gays and lesbians are inherently immoral = fine no problemo. Now if it had been Paul Martin’s federal Liberals, we might have seen a call for resignation.
I had started this post thinking that a lot of “regular” folk were pissed off about it, but now I’m not so sure how true that is. Someone from another political party (the NDP, thankyouverymuch) has publicly called for his resignation, and the Province has framed their article in a way that sounds pro-lgbt rights. Some of the comments to these articles are frustrating and dismaying, of course. But there’s good stuff there as well. But the over-all impression I’ve gotten is that it’s generally seen as problem for this politician. That what he said is bigotry in action and as such, he should resign.
I was wanting to write something really hopeful, that the social tide was changing, slowly, to match some of the legal realities. But the more I think about it the less impressed I feel. I had started out thinking the glass was half full; now I’m thinking the glass is half empty again, and draining out of that crack down at the bottom.
But that’s the way fighting for social justice works, doesn’t it? Keeping hope alive is hard. Perhaps the election results will shore up my initial hopeful feelings about this issue and the Maple Ridge/Mission riding will kick Dalton to the curb, because bigotry should never be awarded or shrugged off in our politicians. May the citizenry will remember that.