Everytime I see a rainbow sticker on a business window, I ask myself  ‘why do they have it? What message are they sending out to LGBT  and the straight community?’

The obvious answer is, that particular business is letting people know that it is LGBT friendly. Which is a relief and all LGBT people can go there and shop, eat, drink or enjoy whatever service the business is offering. Pretty straight forward.

Then it struck me, so are we not supposed to do business with those who do not sport an evident sign of being gay friendly? Or if we do, do we have to be in constant fear that they might refuse service to us?

Yes it can happen and it has happened. But most of the time than not, the services asked for, were very LGBT specific like, same-sex wedding related, adoption, bed and breakfast reservation etc. In most of these cases where service has been denied were on the basis of the proprietor’s religious beliefs.

I go to this particular super-market to do my grocery and I see this rainbow sticker stuck on the glass door and pretty noticeable as soon as you walk in. What if they didn’t have it? Can I assume they are not gay friendly? And by saying not gay friendly,  does it mean if they find out I am gay, or if I come with my partner, holding hands walking down the aisles with our trolley,  the authorities will come and ask us to leave? I don’t think so. But if they do, we need to fight that.

Why do we find the need to restrict ourselves to these businesses? In the gay village, do we have posters or stickers saying we are straight friendly? Funnily enough we don’t but that doesn’t stop tons of straights coming to Church Street restaurants and eating, holding hands with their girl friends and even kissing. They don’t feel threatened coming into our ‘territory’ but we do and for good reason. Funniest is when I see rainbow stickers on shops in Church Street. I mean really? You have opened a business in the gay village, can you be anything else but gay friendly?

Seeing a rainbow sticker makes me feel like a handicap. Its same as businesses advertising they are wheel-chair accessible. But being gay is not a handicap, is it? We should be able to go wherever we want without thinking twice.

Before I moved to Toronto, I have never shopped or eaten anywhere which displayed rainbows. And I never even thought it was necessary. It never crossed my mind that I might not be welcomed there. But now after seeing these in so many windows, when I come across one which doesn’t have it, I stop and think before entering. That’s not right. I don’t need special treatment. Imagine every physically handicapped going to shops own by other handicap people because they feel, they would understand each other, they are one of them, coming from the same community of challenged people.

If they ever start feeling that way, it would be sad indeed. It would mean we failed each other as humans. Why would this be any different? Why the need of a gay village? Why huddle up and feel safe within the confines of familiar boundaries? A gay couple might be thrown out of a bar or pub outside the village for kissing, hugging or doing whatever the authorities perceive as inappropriate behaviour. This mainly happens because very few venture outside the gaybourhood. Imagine the hundreds of gays who go drinking every evening in Church Street, for 1 whole month went drinking all over downtown. Would it not have the same effect of Pride Parade, which is to bring awareness to the straight community? How many couples would these businesses throw out. Remember, I am not saying that gays go and be promiscuous, and vulgar and make people around them all embarrassed. Could the incidence of the lesbian couple in Tim Horton‘s be avoided by spreading our wings beyond the gay village and not once but 365 days in a year?

Its worth a shot. We just might come across the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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Comments on: "RAINBOW stickers in business windows… what message do they send?" (3)

  1. I never thought of the rainbow stickers in this way. You raise a good point. I’ve only seen these stickers in Vancouver’s Davie Street gay village with one exception, a small restaurant in my town on Vi. It’s run by a gay guy and he wanted to attract other gays to (what he’s calling) the “first gay bistro” in this town. He tells me most straight ppl either don’t notice it or don’t know what it means. In the City where I work, a symbol like that might be considered a safe refuge (because this City is not considered overly gay friendly). Thanks for making me think. I believe I will pause as well the next time I see a rainbow sticker on a door. I also agree that gays should get out of their comfy gay bubble neighborhoods once in awhile although it’s easy for me to say that, I don’t have a gaybourhood to live and work in.

  2. Michelle said:

    I was perplexed by this same question. Im a teacher at a Catholic highschool and I’ve considered getting a sticker for my classroom door so my students know I accept everyone and can come to me if they need help. What’s your thought on this?

    • Hi Michelle
      First let me state that I am no expert and don’t have the qualification to advise on societal dos and don’ts. But as a common man I would say, a rainbow sticker on your classroom door might not be such a bad idea only because you mentioned its a Catholic School and common perception of such an organization being anti-gay. In this particular case, a rainbow sticker might help a lot of LGBTQ students knowing they can approach, trust and depend on you if needed.

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