Sunday, 1 September 2013

Peace is a Verb, Not a Noun: Episode 1

Life is not all sunshine and lollipops here at Peace Flag House.

Over the last few years we have been flying rainbow peace flags on the front of our house (it quickly became known as the rainbow peace flag house amongst friends and strangers...but that's a story for another time). We love these flags: they stand in solidarity with the queer community and remind us that peace is a verb, not a noun.

Sadly, there is someone (or some persons) in our neighbourhood that find peace and inclusion incredibly threatening.

It began two years ago with our "celebrate diversity" rainbow bumper sticker being ripped off our car, torn up and scattered across the road.  Then our front porch rainbow peace flag was torn off the pole. We replaced it.  A few weeks later, it was torn off again and the pole was destroyed.

We called the police.  It was clear to us that our home, and specifically the queer identity our flags support, was being targeted.  These were hate crimes.

Alison Rowan
Pascal and I agreed that taking the flags down was not an option.  Especially since we live across the street from a high school.  We know that queer youth are struggling with homophobia and transphobia in high schools across Canada and the USA.  We know that the phrase "that's so gay" is used pejoratively and pervasively.  We know that queerphobia is rampant throughout our communities.  A rash of teen suicides in North America prompted columnist Dan Savage to begin the "It Gets Better" project in 2010, using YouTube videos from queer adults (Rick Mercer!) to let queer youth know that life gets better after high school.  A fabulous way to reach out to the younger generation.

But bullying and queerbashing is happening in our high schools now.  Teens are being harmed now.  Telling youth to 'just hang in there' isn't going to challenge and change the queerphobia they are experiencing.  How will we make it better now?

Our answer: we will make it better by placing two rainbow peace flags on our home; front and centre on the second floor.  Queer youth who are attending our neighbourhood high school can look across the street, and despite whatever is going on in school, at home, or in their community, they will see a safe space that confirms and affirms their identity.

The rainbow peace flags have been flying ever since.

However, the story continues...

Find my article on these hate crimes here:

Bashing the Rainbow

Check out:
The Make It Better Project: 
Triangle Program, Canada's Only LGBTQ Secondary School:

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