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LGBTQ: What is this about?

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How many of us, first generation immigrants, knew about Pride and its celebration before we moved to Canada? Chances are many of us were not aware of either the celebration or some may not have been aware about homosexuality as it is still a stigmatized issue in many eastern societies.

June is Pride Month, when the LGBT communities around the world come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves. LGBT is the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The term sometimes is extended to LGBTQIA to include queer, intersex and asexual groups. Queer is the umbrella term for heterosexual people.

According to Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) data an estimated 900,000 Canadians identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, representing 3.3% of the population aged 15 and older.

Canada’s liberal policies and acceptance of people facing persecution due to their sexual orientation in their home countries has attracted many first-generation people from LGBTQ community who have chosen to immigrate to Canada for the freedom and protection. However, many countries in the world continue to criminalize and prosecute members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Cities across Canada and major cities across the world witness Pride Parades when people exercise their rights to be who they are and be accepted for it. Recent years have seen steady progress on everything from health care to the right to adopt. In 2005, Canada became the fourth country worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage.

Like the last year, this year too, the pride parade will look different because of the pandemic. However, this should not deter anyone to understand, recognize, accept and respect people’s choices.

While Pride parade now is a celebration, it began as a protest, which became a riot. The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the gay community in response to police raids in June of 1969 in New York.

The rainbow flag is the symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) pride social movements. The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBTQ community.

When it comes to immigrants, there is a hesitance to learn about or accept the community. If you have struggled with your understanding of LGBTQ communities, their issues and what you can do about it, The Immigrant Life brings you tips on how to approach it, courtesy of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

  • Do your research. The PEW research found a broad acceptance of homosexuality in North America, the European Union, and much of Latin America, but equally widespread rejection in predominantly Muslim nations and in Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and in Russia. 
  • Listen to younger generation. The perspectives they bring can open your eyes and mind.
  • Talk to people who identify themselves as queer and normalize talk about their feelings.
  • Create a safe space. Be open. They are only looking to be accepted, treated with respect – being treated humanely.
  • Be inclusive and invite LGBTQ friends, friends of your children to hang out with your friends and family.
  • Don’t assume that all in your community, new friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
  • Anti-LGBTQ comments and jokes are hurtful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that it is in bad taste, and you find them offensive.
  • Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
  • Defend your LGBTQ friends against discrimination. Stand up for them. Stand with them.
  • Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect. Practice respectful treatment.

The Immigrant Life believes that all lives are equal and should be treated with respect and dignity.

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