It’s Pride Month but you would hardly know it in the South Cariboo.
There are no rainbow crosswalks like there are in Williams Lake and Quesnel, no big parades to celebrate the gender diversity across our region. Some may think a small town like 100 Mile House doesn’t need one but that’s far from the case.
Like any community, we have our own gender-diverse and LGBTQ+ population.
Indeed, the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre recently received a $10,000 grant to jumpstart a gender-affirming counselling program for transgender, genderfluid and Two-Spirit people in the South Cariboo.
These services are sorely needed, not just for teens at the high school level who are starting to explore their own identities, but for seniors who are reaching out after decades of hiding who they truly are because of outdated societal norms.
Hiding their true gender can contribute to a high suicide rate among gender-diverse people.
This shouldn’t be happening in this day and age. It’s been more than 50 years since Pride Month began in June 1969 with the Stonewall Inn uprising — an event led by Black trans women fighting back against the establishment.
On June 28, 1969, police had come to raid the only bar in New York City for gay men that allowed dancing to arrest people for crossdressing and being transgender. Police raids on places where gay people congregated were common at the time.
There’s no question we have come a long way in B.C. in getting the conversations started in changing these societal norms and expectations around gender diversity, particularly in our bigger centres. But more can always be done to promote inclusion, acceptance and understanding, especially in smaller communities like 100 Mile House and the surrounding areas.
The CFEC, to its credit, is doing a phenomenal job with its gender-diversity services, even attracting gender-diverse people from Kamloops and Williams Lake.
Everyone in our community deserves to be represented, celebrated and respected. They should be able to walk with pride down our streets and speak out and be their true authentic selves.
A rainbow crosswalk would be a tiny step toward that acknowledgment, a symbolic but visible sign that 100 Mile House sees and accepts people for who they are.