Thursday, May 17, 2012

Marking International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia

As LGBTQ Representative for Kitchener-Centre's New Democrats, I mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.  This day is commemorated each year on May 17th because  homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 17, 1990.  

On this day I remember when I myself was a homophobe. My fundamentalist religious upbringing taught me that anything beyond heterosexuality on the sexual spectrum was evil, and I was part of the losing battle to have the definition of marriage kept between a man and a woman. And then something happened. I actually started to talk to people who held different viewpoints than myself, I reached beyond my circle and I realized that maybe, just maybe I didn't hold all the answers. Then near the end of high school my best friend Ken sat me down and revealed to me that he is gay.  Since that time I have educated myself, evolved my understanding of love, and am very privileged to have lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning friends.

But this day is not about me, it is about standing up against homophobia and transphobia wherever it may exist. We are fortunate to live in Canada where there is equal marriage and many laws protecting the LGBTQ community (though we still have a ways to go). Today I think of our LGBTQ family in parts of the world where people are forced to stay in their closets or face jail-time or even death, just because of who they are and who they love.  Today, myself and Kitchener Centre's New Democrats stand with our LGBTQ family and vow to continue to fight for complete equality and better laws to protect our brothers and sisters.  We also remember those who have already suffered and died just for being who they are.

On today, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we stand and say "Let Love Rule," and we celebrate all the colours of the rainbow.

Mark Andrew Alward
Kitchener Centre's New Democrats - LGBTQ Representative