When I first moved to the Peace Region more than five years ago, it was with a slight sense of trepidation. I was 25, had only realized and embraced that I was gay for just four years, and was moving to a region of the province that, to me at the time, was not known for its pro-LGBTQ+ attitudes.
In my two-and-a-half years working in the media in Fort St. John, I covered the annual Pride Walk each year from its inauguration in 2016. In that time, I also discovered there are far more members of the community who are accepting of those who identify as LGBTQ+ than I could have imagined four years ago.
After being made aware of Mr. Gerald Giesbrecht's letter to AHN on Monday, I have some thoughts.
Mr. Giesbrecht's umbrage to the caption of a photo showing two Grade 9 students referred to as "partners" may be many things, but most of all it is narrow-minded. Here's a fact: adolescence is when all of us, whether straight, gay, trans, or queer turn into adults and experience our sexuality and the relationships with boyfriends and girlfriends that inevitably ensues.
While many might disagree with Mr. Preprost's decision to publish this letter, I support his decision for two reasons. First, the overwhelming opposition against the letter shows there is far more love than hate in the world. Second, the letter reminds us why events like Pride exist. The reason Auschwitz was converted from a Nazi concentration camp to a museum is to educate us as human beings of what happens when we choose to hate each other for our differences, rather than love each other for both our differences and our similarities.
We should all strive to do that more often.
— Chris Newton, former news director Moose FM and Energeticcity.ca, via email
My son, 14, from Dr. Kearney, is dating someone and because that someone happens to be a girl, if it said partner under a caption of them, no one would think twice. The Alaska Highway News appears to be presenting a couple of young people who are dating and if anything are 'endorsing' love and freedom.
— Heather Paddison, via alaskahighwaynews.ca
If the newspaper had posted a frontpage photo of a couple of LGBTQ people back when I was growing up, maybe I wouldn't have had to move away before I came out. But no, let's sexualize and politicize a couple of youth celebrating the fact that they don't have to live with the same fear I did 15-20 years ago.
— Katie Cutting, via Facebook
Just because it was said they are partners does not imply a sexual relationship. That was you that implied that. As a guardian of one of the adolescents, I can tell you how excited they were to have their picture taken and used in a positive way for something they a proud of and you try to turn it in to something wrong.
— Tanya Hake, via Facebook
I completely agree that it is inappropriate. Not the relationship, that is their private business. Private. Not for the front page of a newspaper. What was the paper thinking to post pictures of minors with that headline?
— Michele Grant Jeffers, via Facebook
Problem is, not all, support Pride, including many that show for the "party" atmosphere. The thing is, publically putting the picture on front page does put a price on their heads and leaves them very open to public ridicule, and even potential harm.
— Donna Folk, via Facebook
If they were straight no one would bat an eye. It would be viewed as "puppy love". These are young and innocent kids.
— Denise Nadine, via Facebook
'An established unmarried couple'? It's two kids participating in acceptance of diversity together. Why use your assumptions and prejudices to elicit shame or imply innuendo?
— Destiny Ashdown, via Facebook
Look at the smiles on their faces. That says it all. Please don't give a platform for prejudice disguised as concern (by the way...I also have a problem with the "immature and childish" comments. shameful.)
— Susan McGarvey, via Facebook
How many people know how the Pride walk in FSJ was started? It was the teens at NPSS in the Gay Straight Alliance that talked to their counselor about walking down the street with a flag to show support for each other. Their counselor was part of the FSJ Pride society and brought the idea to them. My daughter was one of those teens. I could not be more proud of her and the other teens that had the courage to want to do that. This picture is absolutely innocent of any sexual tone at all. I see two teens showing support for the LGBTQ community. I see two teens that are courageous enough to be photographed as have their picture posted for the whole community to see it. I want to congratulate them and thank them for their courage!
— Morley Wigglesworth, via Facebook
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