During pride month this year, I heard a few (but not many!) comments questioning why we needed all the rainbows. Like sure, I’m not against it or anything, but why do they need to decorate the steps up to that building with pride colours? That fast food corporation is only putting their food in rainbow packaging because it’s trendy and they want to sell more. Why are there rainbows all over the city? Do we really need it?
Well, imagine that this is about you.
Lets pick a name, say Alex, but you can imagine this story using your name.
There are some people in society that don’t like people with the name Alex. There’s no logical reason, they just don’t like you. Most people don’t care that you’re an Alex, but as we will see, the ugliest voices are often the loudest.
When you’re with your friends, sometimes they make comments like “I’ve always wanted an Alex as a friend” or “You’re a cool Alex. But I saw this other Alex, they were really weird.” It makes you feel a little bit like the odd one out in the group, but they think that they’re giving you genuine compliments, so you don’t say anything.
In school, kids use the word ‘Alex’ to mean something negative. Like when a kid drops her sandwich she’d say “ugh, that’s so Alex“. Another kid might use it as an insult towards someone they don’t like. “You’re so Alex!“.
When you go to a cinema or a cafe, you sometimes notice people whispering behind your back. Sometimes you think that the staff avoid eye contact with you or treat you a bit coolly, but maybe you’re just imagining it.
At a place you used to work, you heard that a group of your old colleagues went out to watch the football at a pub last night. When they discovered that you found out, they said “Sorry, we didn’t think you’d want to go. We would have invited you, but we didn’t think that Alexs liked football“.
A few weeks ago, your friend advised you to take a different route home. There were protesters on your normal route, all carrying signs that said things like “It’s not natural”, “My Child, My Choice” and “Say NO to outsiders”. No one said it, but you knew the protest was about you and people like you.
When you switch on social media, sometimes you see the most awful hate comments. People say the most horrible things when they’re safely behind a computer screen. Perhaps they feel a little bit anonymous when they’re commenting on a public post, but the fact is, they’re in a public arena. You know that you shouldn’t worry about the insane comments from small minded people online, but you’ve still read the words and they still hurt.
You turn on the news one night and see that someone called Alex was beaten to within an inch of their life at a bus station.
Some of your family don’t speak to you anymore.
All over the news papers, radio, TV, magazines, social media and in lunch rooms, people are debating whether people called Alex should be allowed to get married. Most people think that marriage with Alexs should be legally recognised, but the ugliest and loudest voices are the ones from the ‘no’ side.
Yesterday, a teenager called Alex ended their life. The voices were too loud.
When you walk up the rainbow steps into your work, you know that this company wants to make you feel welcomed and safe.
When you order your fast food and you see that the fries come in rainbow packaging, you know that the corporation wants you and people like you in their establishment.
When you see the rainbow flags all over the city, you know that this city as a whole accepts you.
When you see people like me walking around with a little rainbow ribbon pinned to their chest, you know that I care.
Yes, sometimes the motivation behind the rainbows might be corporate greed. Sometimes people participate because it’s fashionable. On the other hand, most people are getting involved for the right reasons and the outgoing message is still a positive one. At a minimum, the rainbows are saying “we want you here“, even if it is just to buy a burger or confectionery.
Just remember that disrespect is the foundation for violence. Disrespect, even in small amounts, can wear away at a person and make them feel less than. Sometimes, people really need to march down the street and have crowds of people cheers for them, just for being themselves.