Letter to the editor: Rainbow crosswalk vandalized

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Editor’s note: This letter was previously published on July 2 on the author’s Facebook page as a public note. It has been edited from its original source for publication here.

Earlier this week one of UVIC’s busiest crosswalks was repainted as a rainbow in celebration of the upcoming Pride week, and, from their website, “to affirm its support and commitment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community.”  Today that crosswalk was vandalized (photo attached).  I arrived on campus at 2:15pm to attend a workshop and I wanted to check out the new crosswalk on my way.  When I got there I saw a man speaking with campus security about two thick black tire marks that stretch across the crosswalk.  The lines start shortly before the crosswalk, and end shortly after.  It definitely appears to be deliberate.  Then, on the other side of the crosswalk there was a banner erected (photo attached) which read, “Rainbows come after the storm.  Queer/Trans Erasure.  Policies NOT Crosswalks.”  This appeared to be yet another protest of the sidewalk, but this time coming from someone within the LGBTQ community itself.

This appears to be the same argument that I have heard time and time again in recent days by those who otherwise mean well.  A sort of concern that there is a limited amount of concern to go around?  Many who were happy with the recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court on marriage equality have posted on social media sites that they refuse to celebrate this victory as there are still so many other major problems in the world today.  Concern is not a limited commodity.  People can paint a rainbow sidewalk and also work tirelessly on changing policy surrounding LGBTQ issues.  At the same time, we can celebrate what we have achieved while at the same time continuing to fight for what is still left to be changed.

I’m tired of watching good people waste their efforts in attacking the efforts of others who aren’t putting 100% of their energy into fighting what they feel is the ‘right’ thing to fight at all times.  We can work on many problems at the same time, and we can do it together in solidarity far better than we can at one another’s throats.

Thank you,

Justin D. Whitehead
UVIC Student in Political Science & Economic Policy
Director of Elections & External Relations – UVIC Philosophy Student’s Union
Director at Large – UVIC Greens

 

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  • Jeremy Tarone

    Tire tracks on the road. What did anyone expect? As for the banner, we live in a free country where everyone gets to express their ideas. We may not agree, but at least the vast majority can express ourselves without the violence and hatred seen in many other places around the world. I feel very fortunate to live in Canada, for many reasons, and I’m happy to see people trying to make our society a better place without them resorting to violence.

    • Noah

      In this particular case there were apparently witnesses to someone intentionally spinning on the crosswalk to deface it. Doesn’t mean there’s some grand conspiracy – one angry jerk is all it takes. Agreed with every other sentiment in your comment.

  • I originally posted this on my facebook profile. The original post and the ensuing discussion can be found at http://www.facebook.com/justin.d.whitehead

    Here are some additions I’ve made to the article in response to the ongoing discussion:

    1. I never said that the protest sign was put up by the people who
    vandalized the crosswalk. I’m saying it again now. They weren’t the
    same people.

    2. Someone has now confirmed that the crosswalk was in fact vandalized on purpose.

    3. If you don’t like the crosswalk because you think it was used as a PR
    stunt and nothing more, USE the gigantic rainbow symbol to make the
    University Administration accountable to their words. They’ve just
    given you an enormous tool to use in the fight to make them take action
    on what they say they are doing. Use it.

    4. Please don’t shame anyone LGBTQ or otherwise who likes the new crosswalk just
    because you don’t agree with why it was put there.

    5. To the protesters…. “Rainbows come after the storm” written ON a rainbow loses some effect.

    6. I will be marching happily and proudly in the Pride parade next Sunday
    alongside the Green Party. I hope to see you all there.

    7. I am using my voice here to amplify the voices of those within the
    LGBTQ community who do like the crosswalk. Just because you may
    disagree with them/me does not mean that I am no longer an ally. Nor
    does it mean that they/I are/am “wrong”.

    8. I completely disagree with the notion that anyone is ‘required’ to out themselves or
    label themselves publicly in order to speak on any particular issue.
    There are places in the world where doing so for certain people equals
    death, life imprisonment, etc… It is also an invasion of privacy.
    Thus I will not bend to said demands myself, nor would I ever demand
    such information from another.

    9. As Patrick has pointed out, some read my writing as coming off as
    condescending while those who have spoken with me in person say that I
    do not come across that way at all. When I speak in person I have 100%
    control of the tone of my voice. When writing in plain text, the reader
    decides what tone in which to read what I’ve written. All I can do
    there is say that I do not feel superior to anyone in this conversation.

    10. As I said earlier in the below discussion, I do not think that a SCOTUS
    ruling or a rainbow sidewalk = absolute victory. Some see it as a
    small victory and they should have every right to celebrate that if they
    choose to do so. The battle is not over, and I have also offered my
    support to any who feel that there is still more to be done at the
    University to make that symbol truly mean something. I stand by that.

    11. It’s difficult to discuss why I wrote this post to begin with without
    sort of “calling out” some people. I want to start by saying that I do
    not expect ANYONE who shared anything with me to feel they have to
    come forward. I respect your privacy and I will continue to do so. I
    have been given permission to discuss some concerns here.

    That being said, several people from the LGBTQ community have contacted me
    about some issues they have had on campus recently. Some feel they do
    not fit in with the Pride community, while others feel shame for
    enjoying said community. Some have said they feel that Alt-Pride folks
    have shamed them into not feeling they can like the rainbow crosswalk,
    and they no longer feel safe attending the Pride parade due to fear of
    being attacked by others in their community for doing so.

    It sounds so backwards as I understand the intention of Alt-Pride is to
    be MORE inclusive. Some see their critique of the Pride
    parade/festivities as an attack on something they enjoy.

    Those are the people whose voices I was amplifying with my article. I do
    not believe that anyone is wrong in this debate. Some feel the
    crosswalk and pride are nothing but PR stunts/tokens. They are free to
    feel that way. Others enjoy them and see them as something positive, I
    believe they should be free to feel that way as well.

    I will continue to stand up for my friends in the LGBTQ community who
    feel differently, and I will at the same time continue to offer my
    support to anyone in the community who feels there is still work to be
    done. If I can use my albino-esque white maleness in any way to help
    anyone, I am happy to do so if they feel that it can help.

    Once again I want to say that those who shared this information with me
    have chosen not to involve themselves in the discussion, and sadly some
    have become even more apprehensive after reading the comments section
    of the article for various reasons. Surprisingly mostly due to the
    people who have attacked me for writing said article to begin with.

    I hope that helps explain at least where I am coming from in having written this article.