Yeah, we know; some of your best friends are… This may come as a shock — are you sitting down? — but you are, indeed, a hate-filled homophobe

“I’m not a homophobe in any way.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/10/2022 (209 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

“I’m not a homophobe in any way.”

The quote, included in a Free Press story in Monday’s paper, was uttered by a woman attending a protest outside a North Kildonan coffee shop against Drag Queen Story Hour last Saturday.

As families with children walked towards the shop, she waved a sign that said “Only two genders, stay away from children.”

But she’s not a homophobe. “If they want to read stories to each other, that’s fine, but teaching kids this is acceptable and right — I don’t agree with any of it.”

Peaceful protest is a democratic right, and no one should ever tell anyone they can’t march or gather in support of or against something. But for goodness sake, if you’re going to take time out of your busy schedule to make a sign expressing your contempt for another group of people based on their sexual orientation, have the good graces to admit who and what you are.

Repeat after me, sign-waving lady: “I’m a homophobe.”

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press

A group of supporters hold signs and cheer for kids as they leave a drag queen story time event at Scout coffee shop in North Kildonan.

After decades of watching and writing about the way human beings express themselves in a political context, I still do not entirely understand why people refuse to own their hatred. Attacking something or someone, and then denying that you hate it or them, is a pretty obvious example of delusion.

The closest I’ve come to an answer is to observe that the people who hate things — PWHTs, going forward, for brevity — want to somehow justify their hate on intellectual, rather than emotional or ideological grounds. Those protesting Drag Queen Story Hour want to be seen as thoughtful people who are only attacking another group because they believe it’s promoting the greater good.

But is protesting Drag Queen Story Hour really the greater good? We’re all obviously free to think whatever we want, but regular measurements of our attitudes towards LGBTTQ+ people and the rights they should enjoy in society exposes the greater-good argument as a lie.

For the most part, Canada has strong support for LGBTTQ+ people, their right to live free of hate and rights to things such as same-sex marriage. A 2020 global survey by the U.S.-based Pew Foundation found that 85 per cent of Canadians — one of the highest scores of any nation surveyed — believe homosexuality should be accepted by society, up from 69 per cent in 2002.

Only 10 per cent joined the sign-waving lady in saying it should not be accepted.

We’re all obviously free to think whatever we want, but regular measurements of our attitudes towards LGBTTQ+ people and the rights they should enjoy in society exposes the greater-good argument as a lie.

What she and other PWHTs don’t get is that the realpolitik of the debate over LGBTTQ+ rights and education in schools around sexual orientation has simply overtaken the protesters who gathered outside that coffee shop. Canadians are, in general, more tolerant and practical about what we tell our kids about sexual orientation than the naysayers outside the coffee shop are.

Politicians certainly seem to get it. At least, those who want to form government.

When Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives sought to unseat the Liberals in 2018, they courted deeply conservative families that wanted to eliminate all sex-ed curriculum in public schools that dealt with what they called “sexual identity theory.”

However, after winning and undertaking the political calculus on that pledge, Ford realized he’d be running headlong into a majority of voters if he actually stripped sexual orientation out of sex-ed curriculum. Instead, he delayed the introduction of sexual orientation to later grade years, and gave parents the right to opt out. Very few have chosen to do that.

All this brings us back to the protest outside the Winnipeg coffee shop and a minority that may not be growing in numbers, but is certainly growing in intensity.

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press

The supporters, who call themselves ‘the welcoming committee’ attended the drag queen story time event in response to a group opposing it.

Hatred of people based on sexual orientation is just one notch on the spectrum of hate we see from the simmering far-right. It’s joined by strong anti-vaccine, anti-immigrant, anti-woke, anti-LGBTTQ+ sentiments. Although those sentiments are hardly new, the volume of hate coming from this constituency has increased, along with the incursion by far-right, libertarian politicians into mainstream politics.

This a segment of society that will insist on fighting for their right to do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want without government or anyone else telling them what to do. At the same time, however, they often deny others the same privilege.

Don’t teach children about sexual orientation, but do make sure Christianity is a staple of public education. Give me the right to wear a crucifix whenever I want, but ban the hijab and burqa. Don’t force me to get vaccinated but stop women from getting abortions.

Sign-waving lady and other PWHTs may accuse me of extrapolating too much, and she may be right. However, this wasn’t just a group of folks sitting around a Tim Hortons lamenting the state of society; these folks made hateful signs, travelled to North Kildonan to a specific location and then waved those signs at children.

This was not freedom of expression. This was premeditated hate.

If you honestly believe people have the right to do what they think is best for their families, let them engage in activities with their children they think are most appropriate, without any menacing gestures.

Haters gonna hate but, if at all possible, they should also keep it at home, where it belongs.

Dan Lett

Dan Lett

Born and raised in and around Toronto, Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school with a lifelong dream to be a newspaper reporter.

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