I am an advocate of the Rainbow Crosswalk. And while it is still in the pre-construction phase in our community, I think it is a visible and friendly symbol of acceptance, love and celebration of diversity; Particularly, but not exclusively in support of the LBGTQ2 members of our community. Here is why.
I am a tall, white, English speaking, non-accented, Christian raised, able bodied, Canadian heterosexual male. Those traits are at the top of the charts in terms of social and societal advantage and privilege. I have advantages in every category I listed that may be so natural to me that I don’t even notice them, but are very significant to my success in our society. I get to take things for granted that others do not have the same opportunity to do.
This is particularly true of Heterosexual Privilege. Consider some of these points:
As a Heterosexual, I enjoy:
- Holding hands, kissing, and dancing with my spouse in public while being positively supported for doing so.
- Never worrying about “coming out” at a young age, or wondering if my parents, friends and family would still love or accept me because of my sexuality.
- Seeing examples of and learning from sexual role models on TV and in the media.
- Being around a majority of others that share my sexuality all of the time, and having an open and public ability to choose a dating partner and a spouse.
- Not worrying about offending others with my sexuality, or being judged, avoided or abused for expressing myself and who I am.
- Being myself without people asking why I chose my sexual preference.
- Teaching, parenting, and supervising kids without some people assuming I will molest them or indoctrinate those children into my sexuality.
- Travelling the world with my spouse without persecution about my sexuality.
- Expressing my sexuality as I see fit, without condemnation from religious, political or social condemnation, as if I am sinful, defective or mentally ill.
- Hearing the terms for my sexuality in positive terms (straight up) instead of negative terms (that’s so gay).
Enjoying straight privilege is not the same as homophobia. We don’t need to give up our privilege, but we do need to recognize it, and with empathy, try to give the most generous appreciation and empathy to those that don’t enjoy it. So when I hear and read things like:
“I don’t know why we can’t all just treat everyone the same,” and, “I don’t think they need any special treatment, what about the _________ community and the rights of ________?” It tells me that many of us have not considered the advantages we already have, and may not have considered what it might be like to be in a same gender relationship.
As an educator, I also see that youth often go through their sexual orientation discovery during their highschool years. As if enough isn’t going on for kids of that age already. Put on top of that the self doubt, sexual secrecy, shame, guilt, deception, low self esteem, family and peer judgment, isolation, thoughts of worthlessness and suicide and fear that comes with a LGBTQ2 orientation. It must be overwhelming. Anything we can do as a community to let them know, publically and safely (for them) that we love them and accept them for who they are is really… the least we can do. A rainbow crosswalk is a small token of that love and support, but it is a step in the right direction.