Orlando Reflection

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to travel to Miami for the 4th World Outgames. Here they had a memorial for the Orlando fallen. This was part of my Orlando reflection on our current LGBT environment in light of the changes at the White House in the USA. We have witnessed first hand how quickly some of our rights can be stripped away and programs/funding cut when the leadership of a government changes.

As I continue with my Orlando reflection I travelled to Ottawa for the annual Canadian Centre of Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) conference. Here I heard the words from Liberal MP, Dr. Hedy Fry share her thoughts on how we as the people can never be complacent with our fight for LGBT equal human rights. It was the first time in Canadian history, that all major political parties came together to discuss LGBT rights and the importance in Gender and Sexual diversity. Needless to say it was quite inspiring to see despite party lines there was some agreement on making tomorrow brighter, safer and more inclusive.

I leave you with the following Orlando reflection from one of our greatest LGBT heroes, Gilbert Baker – the creator of the Rainbow Flag. Gilbert prior to his passing wrote a few letters for the Canadian Centre of Gender and Sexual Diversity to use throughout the year.

Today marks the first anniversary of the largest mass shooting in US history.
Even in writing these words, I pause.
In a way, I can’t believe it was our community that was attacked. But in truth, after everything I have been through, I am not surprised. 
The Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL reminds us that the gains we have made are never permanent. We are each required to constantly participate in a process of renewal. 
Today, we can’t just only remember the victims of this brutal attack. 
We NEED to #HonorThemWithAction. 
The CCGSD will be honoring them by training volunteers at Medicine Hat Pride to organize & run workshops that challenge homophobia, transphobia & transmisogyny in regional schools. 
By building capacity in Medicine Hat, Alberta, we hope that the region will be better able to do more to address the hate and discrimination that exists. 
But you are probably thinking: What can I do?
Not sure? That’s ok. Being an activist isn’t always easy or obvious. For me, it has required a lot of work, that has included looking inward and challenging the oppression that I put out in the world too. 
While it might seem simple, make a donation to the CCGSD and support their work in Alberta’s bible belt. Or better yet, become a monthly donor. Those monthly donations help the organization plan for the future and build new programs. Even something a small as $2 a month really helps!
Want to do more? Why not volunteer? You can volunteer (like I do) with the CCGSD or any number of community organizations across Canada. Also, check out honorthemwithaction.org, to see what more you can do!
But mostly, be the change you want see in our world. Learn more, read more, and listen more. 
Challenge yourself to practice kindness, love and respect.
Your in action,
Gilbert Baker
CCGSD volunteer 
(and artist behind the Pride Flag)