When I first moved to Calgary, there was an annual neo-Nazi march through the city’s downtown core. Yes, people would get permits, block the street, and march in the name of hate.
Think about that for a moment. A modern, multicultural city of more than a million people in Canada, allowed people to march through their streets espousing hate. It’s boggling.
It lasted about 4 yrs and eventually fizzled as an anti-racism rally would be scheduled to go at the same time on the opposite block. I still shake my head thinking about it.
Over the past few years, as the racist march disappeared, a brighter culture of acceptance has emerged. The Calgary Pride Parade has grown so popular that the route has been changed to wider city streets to accommodate the crowds. It wasn’t always like that.
Despite starting in 1990, and Pride Week being official declared by Mayor Al Duerr in 1991, a mayor didn’t walk in the parade for the first 20 yrs. Naheed Nenshi became the first Calgary mayor to march in 2011.
It took 2 more years until an Alberta Premier would break the barrier when Alison Redford joined the parade in 2013.
That same summer, Vancouver painted a crosswalk on Davie St in bright rainbow colours to celebrate the community’s diversity and commitment to acceptance. Seeing all the fuss over Redford marching (in something that should have happened years earlier) caused me to lament that Calgary could use a lasting monument to acceptance. The city was growing past its redneck reputation and needed to announce it to the world.
Finally, in 2015, Calgary has that monument with a rainbow crosswalk of its own. Right in the same block where that hateful, racist march used to happen.
When Zacharie and I visited that Vancouver crosswalk, he asked why it was painted like a rainbow. I told him it was “to remind us we can love anyone we choose.” My sons are growing up in an era of tolerance and acceptance. They will be encouraged to be their true selves and to live the happiest life they can. They will be taught to love.
Except there are those who want to cling to that hateful past, still. In addition to the bright crosswalk in Calgary, a rainbow bus has joined the fleet of Calgary Transit in time for Pride. And one bus driver isn’t impressed.
Despite not being assigned to a route involving the rainbow bus, this driver is protesting the potential of him driving it because he’s a Christian and finds homosexuality to be wrong.
It’s head shaking.
I’m so fed up with fundamentalist zealots and their hate preaching.
We need talk to this driver (and all the haters) the same way I talked to my 6 yr old son the first time he saw a rainbow for pride: that rainbow is there to remind us to love each other.
Think about it: their disapproval of gay rights and equality is a mission to spread hate. Gay people, on the other hand, are just seeking the right to love. WWJD?