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.