Come Out and Speak Out! We can make it a better world one conversation at a time!
October 11th is National Coming Out Day, an opportunity for LGBTTQQI2S people and supportive allies to come out and encourage dialogue in our homes, workplace and communities to celebrate the diversity of our families and friends. Be visible! Show your true colours and wear one of our rainbow bracelets. Better yet, wear two – and give one to a friend!
We know that coming out is not easy, and although we hear many similarities in coming out stories that are shared with us, we also know that each individual and every family member or friend involved has their own, personal, recollection of that event.
We also know that individuals come out in their own time; and for those of us who are straight we can only imagine the forethought involved in the days, months and indeed years before the coming out conversation, and the courage required in taking that leap of faith for the telling.
At Toronto PFLAG we continue to support LGBTQ adults of all ages including youth coming out in elementary and middle school grades, which reminds us that for some youth, waiting for it to get better after high school is way too late, and in fact, even waiting until high school to talk about supporting our LGBTQ youth is leaving our most vulnerable students bereft of needed support. We are thankful for the staff and administration in the TDSB who invite us in to speak to students in elementary grades.
One of our Youth Speakers, Simon, was the guest speaker at a CSSN Event this month to raise funds and awareness for the Canadian Safe Schools Network. Simon is in Grade 9, and his speech, which moved everyone in the room, can be read elsewhere on our website.
Speaking Out in Protest
The past few days have seen a flurry of articles condemning homophobic comments made by Guido Barilla, head of Barilla Pasta who was quoted as saying, “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go and eat another brand.”
Within 24 hours of being inundated with messages showing international outrage at his comments and calling for a boycott of his company’s products, he quickly issued an apology; however, in my opinion, a sincere apology should not contain these words….. “With reference to my statements yesterday to the press, I apologize if my words have offended some people.”
We all make mistakes. I believe a mistake is a mistake until a lesson is learned from it. Barilla has learned at least one lesson this week – that there are a huge number of pasta consumers around the world who were prepared to Come Out and Speak Out against homophobia, and their decision to boycott Barilla products because of his homophobic comments, certainly got his attention. Hopefully he also will learn a broader lesson, that all families are deserving of respect and depiction in advertising family products, and not just the lesson that being homophobic will affect his bank account!
Speaking Out in Support
One of ourToronto PFLAG supporters, Dawna, posted a YoutTube video this past week that is worth watching, as it reminds us all that opportunities to Come Out and Speak Out can arise when and where we least expect it. To find out if ‘the average person’ would intervene in various circumstances, the film crew arranged the scene where two actors playing the part of a mother and teen son are in a diner where their heated conversation can be overheard by diners at nearby tables. The topic? The son is telling his Mom he wants to be a girl. The video clip can be seen here.
Speaking Out in the Community
Toronto PFLAG is always happy to provide speakers for schools, universities, and local businesses and organisations. Our current teams are comprised of:
- 1 or 2 parents of someone LGBTQ
- 1 parent, 1 Out LGBTQ youth, to share recent school experience
- 1 parent, 1 Out LGBTQ professional from business or police
Monday, September 30th, I was joined at the podium by P.C. Danielle Bottineau, Toronto Police LGBT Liaison Officer as we spoke at the plenary session for Forest Hill Collegiate Institute’s Grade 9 Leadership Seminar. This was our second year of participating in this way with Forest Hill C.I., and we fully support the work they do to foster a positive attitude in all their Grade 9 students at the onset of their high school experience.
Speaking Out at Support Meetings
Every month we are privileged to welcome to our Support Meetings individuals and families who share their stories with us, as we do with them, in the hope of making ‘Coming Out’ or ‘Living Out’ easier. On Wednesday, October 2nd, our Support Meeting opened with a special guest sharing his story with us, Josh Wilson. I learn something new each and every month at the meetings, and you might too!
Please Come Out and Speak Out on October 11th, Coming Out Day. Perhaps you will be the one who makes it easier for someone else to open a closed door in their life and come out too!
With hugs and rainbow bracelets to share,