As a journalist, one of the hardest rules to follow is to set your opinions aside when reporting on a story.
There is, however, an exception to nearly every rule.
I simply refuse to remain silent on the issue of equality for the members of our LGBTQ+ community. You'll find "LGBTQ+" on all of my main social media bios. I'm not afraid to admit it.
This is Pride Month around the world. Though Pride weeks will take place throughout the summer, including in central Alberta this August, June was chosen as Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which occurred in June 1969. It's worth Googling to learn the full story.
What my stance boils down to is something you've likely heard before: a person deserves to love who they want and live the life or lifestyle that fits them best. Why people choose to hate those who were born a certain way is beyond me.
A quick Google search also will provide one with a litany of ridiculous conclusions about gay marriage, how children with same-sex parents are affected, and what religion says about the matter. All I can implore you NOT to do is buy in to all that poppycock.
I'm always eager to ask someone who is homophobic if they would feel the same if their child turned out to be gay, lesbian, transgender or otherwise. I've loved my daughter to death since the moment she was born, so to imagine some parents out there would disown their own flesh and blood blows my mind.
Admittedly, it was odd for me growing up with an older cousin who would eventually come out as gay. I was young -- I didn't know any better or what it was all about. Now, I'm proud to say I not only have a gay family member, I have gay and lesbian friends and coworkers, transgender friends, and those of other identities. Many of them live here in Red Deer and Alberta, and they're truly some of the best people I know.
I still read far too often the question ‘Why isn't there a straight pride parade?’ Ask yourself if straight people have ever been oppressed just because they were straight -- ridiculed, harassed, bullied, beaten and (mass) murdered just because they loved someone of the opposite gender in an intimate way?
The answer is no, they haven’t. That's why there are Pride weeks, a Pride Month, Pride flags, exuberant public displays of affection, parades where people flaunt their sexuality and dance like they don’t care what anyone thinks of them.
So what is it that you can do to be a better human being as it pertains to being an LGBTQ+ ally? Why not start by talking to one and getting to know them.
"I have had people tell me that I changed their outlook on gay people, because they simply had never met one before. They had the stereotypical gay man in their heads, but after getting to know me, their views changed," says Laine Mitchell, rdnewsNOW’s Drayton Valley reporter.
"People go from being misinformed to an ally. I hope I stick in their minds so when they have a friend, family member or stranger make a negative comment towards the LGBTQ+ community, they speak up and curb that kind of speech."
Laine adds the power a straight person's message carries can go a long way to lifting the voices of someone within the LGBTQ+ community.
"Simply put," he continues, "everyone's just looking for that someone to love in this wild, busy world. We can all identify with that."
Ain't that the truth?!
Conclusion: There's just no good reason on this wonderful planet of ours for anyone to discriminate or hate someone based on their sex, sexual orientation, race, marital status, creed, age, colour, disability, political or religious belief, gender identity or gender expression.
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