Pellerin: Pride Week — Let’s love everyone for what they are

It is crucial that children and young people grow up knowing that they will be fully accepted no matter where they land on the rainbow.

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Happy Pride Week, Ottawa! I spent most of it out of town in Brampton near the Toronto airport (motto: “Like Barrhaven! But louder!”), for the Ultimate Nationals. It didn’t rain, our children from Ottawa played well and above all had a lot of fun. In an atmosphere that is entirely and genuinely welcoming to everyone.

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The world has changed a lot since my childhood. Never would an organized sport of the 1980s have featured a merchandise tent with big, giant pride messages. In Brampton, the popular swag spot had a huge sign on the side explaining that using someone’s favorite pronouns is « one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity ». They also highlighted a flag of progress, the rainbow flag which also includes a chevron representing marginalized people of color, trans people and people living with or dead from HIV/AIDS.

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Ultimate (formerly known as Ultimate Frisbee) is the sport I know well, but I bet it’s far from the only one supporting LGBTQ2S+ people and encouraging everyone to be real allies. As a group, young people do not tolerate bigotry.

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Or the rainbow wash. This term describes companies that aren’t generally considered LGBTQ-friendly but go out (oh, the pun) once a year during Pride week with one or two resentful #YayGay tweets before returning to this that really interests them. . If there’s one thing young people despise, it’s the performative ally. Either mean what you say and back it up with real action, or shut up your yelp.

Pride, like everything else, evolves. Before, it was about accepting gays and lesbians. There is now greater pressure to include not only transgender people, but also people of all gender identities and expressions. That means gender-fluid people, non-binary people, aromantic people, pansexual people, the agender, gender non-conforming, and a whole bunch of other iterations besides.

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There are resources online to understand what these different terms mean, and if you’re a little confused, I urge you to read more about different gender identities to better understand them. But keep in mind that the definitions are necessarily restrictive and that there are as many variants as there are individuals. The key is to accept people as they are and not worry too much about labels.

At a minimum, it starts with acknowledging that biology is not gender. Your body parts don’t dictate how you should feel about yourself. To insist otherwise is incredibly cruel and inhumane.

The acronyms AFAB (assigned female at birth) and AMAB (assigned male at birth) are important. It may be that for many people, what is assigned to them at birth fully matches who they feel like. But it’s far from everyone. The least you can do is believe people when they tell you who they are and what they think of themselves.

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I am a gender non-conforming middle aged human. I present myself mainly as a woman but I don’t feel like one and I never have. I am beyond thrilled that the younger generations are supportive of Pride 365 days a year. I’m ecstatic for kids growing up thinking it’s okay for them to be exactly who they are. They’re not monsters like I thought they were. Or worse, deviant.

The Citizen recently told the story of 12-year-old Avery Durocher, who was at the Pride Flag Raising Ceremony at City Hall because he wanted to see « all the fans and all the other people, and see how much the city cares about the community. It made my fag heart sing.

It is crucial that children and young people grow up knowing that they are worth loving as they are, especially if their identity is a bit fuzzy or uncertain. Knowing the adults around them, as well as their peers, will accept them wherever they might land on the rainbow is priceless.

Good pride to all.

Brigitte Pellerin is a writer from Ottawa.

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