OPINION: RAINBOW FLAG REQUEST
Rossland City Council heard a presentation on Tuesday evening by well-spoken youth from the “Creating a Supportive Rossland” group, seeking to have the City fly the rainbow flag in recognition of Gay Pride Week this September, and to approve a rainbow crosswalk near Rossland Summit School. Their worthy aim is to provide a more openly welcoming community for “LGBTQ+” people — gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people, those who question their own gender identity, and any others with what might be called non-standard sexuality. Council will deliberate on their requests and provide answers at the next Council meeting, scheduled for Monday, February 22.
A Digression: Two Rainbow Flags, Two Movements
Many people think only of the gay pride movement when they see or hear about a rainbow flag or other rainbow emblems. But there is another movement that adopted a rainbow flag as its emblem many years earlier. One could say that the two movements have several things in common.
Both seek to become more widely understood and accepted. Both are based on finding ways for people to improve their lot against powerful adverse forces. Both are based on people working together. Both seek peaceful solutions to problems. So — what is this other movement?
In 1925, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) adopted a rainbow flag as its emblem, and used the seven-colour rainbow flag for 76 years, until 2001. At its International Assembly that year, the Alliance adopted a new flag to avoid further confusion with the newer but better-known gay pride movement’s six-colour rainbow flag, and a few other, less-known rainbow flags. The ICA flag adopted in 2001 shows a quarter-arc rainbow on a white background, with the coloured stripes breaking into flying doves.
Promoting Acceptance, Respect and Kindness
Meanwhile, back in Rossland and all other communities across the continent, we all know that people who are different from the norm in various ways are subjected to prejudice and bigotry, unkindness and rejection. Perhaps xenophobia — the fear of what is strange to us — is hard-wired into humans, as a precautionary mechanism to improve our chances of survival. After all, inter-tribal conflict goes back as far as the human race.
But can’t we outgrow some of our more primitive reactions? Interacting in an open and friendly way with people who are different from us seldom poses risks now. In fact, all humans are visibly different from each other, with the possible exception of identical twins; we all have different faces and bodies. Those visible differences allow us to recognize each other as individuals. As the human population grows, the more visible differences we have the better it is for differentiating and recognizing people.
What do we value?
Think about it. How do we choose people to welcome into our circle of friends, or reject? By their conspicuous wealth? By their physical beauty and personal grooming? By their similar tastes in foods, entertainment and other recreational activities? By their religion or philosophy of life? By whether or not they display great charm and charisma? By how they dominate, how “alpha” they seem? By the values they exhibit in their behaviour with others, such as kindness or cruelty, honesty or deceitfulness, and so on? What qualities do you really value in other people?
I suggest that their gender identity, and how well it matches or is expressed by their appearance, is not a good or useful criterion for judging anyone’s worth as a human being or a potential friend. There are more than enough bases for dividing people and creating conflict already without allowing useless and disrespectful criteria into the mix. Let’s toss the bigotry, and open our hearts more often to those with differences, including those who identify as LGBTQ+. We might even learn something. Let’s support “Creating a Supportive Rossland” — they have the right idea. They’re doing good work.
Nasty prejudice is so last year.