Once in a while an event happens that makes you rethink where you are. For LGBTQ+ rights, I thought we had come a long way: Canada has legalized gay marriage, popular culture has started to embrace LGBTQ+ characters, and like many unions, the BCGEU has a vibrant LGBTQ+ community. I was feeling as though we had made real movement forward on the issue.
The shooting in Orlando on the weekend changed all that.
Suddenly, the motivation for the largest mass killing in recent US history is who the victims loved. And it sets me back – are we really still here? Is such hatred, coupled with the easy access to guns in the United States, still able to wreak such devastating havoc?
It makes me more determined than ever to move together and continue to fight. I highlighted some of the BCGEU's main advances in my blog on the Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, but there is more to be done. BCGEU members have supported the growing Pride movement in smaller communities such as Fort St. John, Nanaimo and Quesnel, and we will continue to encourage our members to show solidarity as Pride events take place across the province throughout the summer.
We must continue to create safe spaces for all our members, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification. We can bargain inclusive language into our collective agreements and union policies. There are many more ways to show our solidarity.
Trade unions have a role in supporting human rights for all members of our society, and this is another occasion where our strength is in our numbers. Let's show all our LGBTQ+ friends that we stand with them in solidarity, in whatever way we can!