(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) As the BC Federation of Labour and our member unions join workers and everyone else celebrating Pride this month, we’re mindful that Pride started as a protest.
Yes, we’ve made tremendous strides — progress that would have seemed unimaginable even a generation or two ago. Yet every day it seems we get another reminder of just how far we have to go… and how easily we could lose the progress we’ve made. This week’s deeply troubling events in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho should concern us all, and they are only the latest in a series of developments that make it clear that homophobia and transphobia are far from a thing of the past.
One step we can all take is to stand up against hate and violence in the workplace. The Canadian Labour Congress is leading a campaign calling on the federal government to ratify ILO C-190, a global treaty affirming everyone’s right to a workplace free from violence and harassment, and setting out a framework for ending it. You can add your voice to their call here.
It’s clear this is no time to sit idly by on the victories we’ve won; they must be defended, and we have to continue our work to advance understanding and an embrace of the sexual and gender diversity of working people and our families.
That requires us to deepen our own understanding of the roots of the struggle against homophobia and transphobia, which vastly predates Stonewall. We are learning more about how it mirrors colonialism, and how colonizers imposed the gender binary and villainized gender identities that are recognized by Indigenous peoples. And just as we now start with Two-Spirit people when we refer to 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, we are coming to understand how their erasure in the colonial narrative anticipated much of the worst homophobic and transphobic messages we hear today.
It is no coincidence that the most virulent homophobic and transphobic messages come from the same quarters spreading racist and misogynist hate as well. That makes understanding intersectionality — and the many ways race, gender, sexual orientation, Indigeneity and other identities shape people’s experiences and perspectives — more important than ever.
For all of that, our progress in recent years has been remarkable. We can and should acknowledge the work we have yet to accomplish, both within the labour movement and beyond, and also celebrate the gains we’ve made. Pride is both protest and celebration. And in that spirit, we offer solidarity and celebration to 2SLGBTQIA+ workers and communities everywhere.
Happy Pride, everyone.