Let’s love people as they are, eh?

Let’s love people as they are, eh?

It’s Pride Week in Ottawa and for the first time in forever I’m planning to be at the parade. I don’t like parades, because I don’t like crowds. But there are beautiful queer people in my life I love much more than I dislike crowds so yeah, I’m coming. 

I was thinking about the evolution of pride over the decades. Back in my day, it was very much a gay men thing. I’m talking Quebec City in the early 1990s. Maybe it was different where you were, I don’t know. 

What I do know is that nowadays the focus is shifting from sexual orientation to gender diversity. And that’s a beautiful thing because the rainbow, it turns out, is even bigger and more expansive than many of us thought.

I was thinking about all this while I was baking in the hot-hot sun earlier in the week. I was in Brampton for the Ultimate Canadian championships with one of my teenagers. And I was struck by how many rainbow and progress flags there were — including on some of the teams’ uniforms. 

I’m a Gen Xer (and I’m pretty good at it, if I say so myself), and when I was growing up we had no words, concepts or understanding of gender diversity. Sure, you could be gay. Or bisexual. That was fine. Being trans was considered out there. Non-binary? We had no clue it existed. And yet it obviously did. 

Gender diversity is as old as people. I always knew I didn’t fit in with girls. With women even less. I have always been more comfortable around guys, but I never felt like one of them either. I thought I was the one with the problem, and I spent much of my life hating myself for being so damn weird. 

Fast forward a few decades and I can say I’m gender non-conforming and have maybe one-third of my readers understand what I mean. The other two-thirds are probably sympathetic but slightly confused — which is completely OK, by the way. Confused and lost are fine. Unaccepting isn’t. 

I am so pleased by this long evolution because it means kids today who are gender diverse have a better chance than I ever had to believe they’re cool instead of deviant. As I wrote in this column, being accepted and loved for who you are is crucial. 

Be you, wherever you fall on the rainbow. You are beautiful just the way you are.