Posts tagged ‘Toronto’

RAINBOW stickers in business windows… what message do they send?

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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ONTARIO election campaign riding high on homophobia

Ontario PCs latest flyer just days before the election hits the gay community below the belt.

Politics is always dirty, full of lies, eye wash, cover up and false hopes and promises. But this is absolutely disgraceful, tasteless and downright spiteful. Playing on parental emotions, this below flyer may not fly high on its goal achievement, nonetheless the desperation of Tim Hudak is evident. But just not alienating the entire LGBT community but also using them for such a vile campaign… makes me wonder how smart a move is it.

But again, Rob Ford won inspite of his blatant homophobia. His win may have actually made others realize that to win an election, they don’t need the votes of the queer community. And if that’s true, its very disturbing indeed. Partly we are to be blame too. Most of us don’t care to vote. So people like Ford win uncontested. From Toronto’s angle, it will be interesting to see how homophobic leaders in 3 levels will affect our lives.

We already have Ford as mayor. God forbid if we get someone like Hudak as premier and then we already have Harper sitting on the throne. We might as well pack our backs and claim refugee status in Uganda.

A few months back, I think during one of the council elections, one of the candidates came knocking at my door and handed in his flyer and asked me to consider him when voting. I wish Hudak would do that too. But I don’t think he will dare to go door door with that flyer specially in the gay village and neighbourhood.

Let Alvaro ( illegal immigrant ) Stay…. !!!!

What I am going to write here, would raise a lot of eyebrows, I am sure. But again, maybe not, because I don’t think too many people read my blog anyway.

I will copy paste Alvaro’s history or bio here from the facebook page made in the hope that we can pressurize the immigration department from releasing him.
Alvaro first rose to national prominence in 2007 when his refugee claim was denied on the basis that he did not look “gay enough” for the adjudicator hearing his case via a television screen in Calgary.

This story was picked up by the largest newspapers in Nicaragua, effectively “outing” him to the entire country he left at age 12 due to severe physical abuse by a father who threatened to “kill any child of his that was homosexual.”

Alvaro, now 25, is still waiting for a decision on his Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) application.

Friends and supporters of Alvaro are meeting to move quickly to stay his deportation. It is critical that we keep this strong voice in our community.

Alvaro’s Accomplishments & Exhibits

– Volunteer/Mentor with Supporting Our Youth (SOY)
– Mayworks Festival, Toronto, 2011
– Toronto Youth Cabinet, 2010 Identify & Impact Awards, Street-Level Advocate Award Winner
– Migrant Expressions Photography Exhibition, Montreal, 2009
– Under the Bridge Art Exhibition, Toronto, 2009
Jumblies Theatre, Prop-Maker and Photographer, Toronto, 2009
– Refugee Rights Day, Toronto City Hall, Toronto, 2008
– ArtWherk Collective 2007, Pride Art Exhibition, Toronto,

Very impressive portfolio, I must say. I ‘Liked’ the page. Added my voice to the cause too.

But then it made me think on the facts in his case. I admit, in a conservative country like Nicaragua, if he is forced to return, it would be a disaster. But there is a small factor which some how most of the people seem to not notice or is deliberately ignoring. Alvaro first went to the States and from there came to Canada. In both the cases, his status was illegal. And homeland security took him to custody. I don’t see any wrong in this.

I am sure, tons of other men and women are there in Nicaragua who are right at this time, going through a lot of discrimination, oppression, torture on the basis of their sexual orientation. Their troubles are no lesser than Alvaro’s. They couldn’t do what Alvaro did, live in a country illegally. They are there in the thick of it, taking the brunt and dealing with it, the best way they can. THEY are the heroes. And Alvaro is the escapist. The weaker one. And for some reason, we are making him the HERO.

When his immigration plea was denied, it was covered by Nicaragua’s leading newspaper and thus he was ‘outed’. Tomorrow, if he is allowed to stay in Canada, that could be covered by the newspapers too. And what message would we be sending to the country? “If you can just manage to land in Canada, even if illegally, we will rally against the government and pressurize them to make you stay.”

If he didn’t have such a remarkable bio-data, and was instead just a gay illegal immigrant, would we have still given our support? Maybe, God forbid, if the “Kill The Gays” bill becomes law in Uganda, they can and should just land in Canada too, and we will back them up.

Am I being too heartless, mean, etc etc? I don’t know. All I am asking is, why, just because Alvaro had the guts to stay in a country illegally and the others didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t do it, should he be almost awarded for this act?

Every illegal immigrant has a reason to leave their country and come here. How do we judge, Alvaro’s reason is more important or serious than the others. Why should we judge? Isn’t that discrimination? Shouldn’t there be the same rule for everybody?

I sincerely hope, Alvaro gets to stay. But these questions were bothering me for a few days now. The way I look at it, this is not about being gay, this is about the country’s security.

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