Hate is a four-letter word

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On June 12, we were all reminded just how crazy, bigoted and homophobic our world is. At least 49 people were massacred and 53 more injured at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, by one gunman with a high-powered assault rifle. This type of tragedy is certainly terrorism, but it does not really have much to do with the Muslim religion. In fact, the Christian religion is equally full of hate when it comes to gay or even bisexual people.

How can we be so backward and narrow in this day and age when it comes to sexuality? Many of my friends and I grew up in small northern First Nations and towns where it was not easy to survive being different in any way. For gay or bisexual people, life in these communities is still not easy. There is all kinds of discrimination, intolerance and downright hate when it comes to dealing with being gay or bisexual outside of city centres.

For some strange reason this type of hatred is alive and well in many of our communities. A healthy percentage of our population is either gay or bisexual, but for many people it is impossible to live their lives as they were meant to be. They have to hide their feelings and that only causes problems.

Long ago in First Nations culture two-spirited people (gays) were respected for who they were and held important roles in society. With the coming of the Europeans and their religions a new way of thinking was forced on my people. Though the missionaries who promoted these attitudes were bound by rules of celibacy, it has long been known that very few did without sex.

The idea that religious leaders must be celibate always puzzled me. It is a fallacy to pretend that people can live without engaging in natural necessities like sex. Rather than celebrate our differences in so many ways we have chosen to discriminate and promote hatred against certain segments of society and that has only caused all of us pain in one way or another.

I am happy to know that there are more and more gay and bisexual people finding strength in numbers and organizing in small northern communities so that there is support and safety for all. Timmins recently celebrated a pride parade and there was a First Nation two-spirit speaker at the event.

However, things are still not easy for gay or bisexual people in smaller northern First Nations communities. Too many people do not feel free to be themselves. They live in fear of being compromised or accused of being sinners or worse. Those who work in education, politics, administration and business must always be cautious in voicing their opinions and taking stands on any matter that goes against the grain. That should not be the case.

The Orlando massacre was very upsetting. The event placed two very controversial and vulnerable minorities into the spotlight – the LGBT people and Muslims. If the death of 49 people were not enough, this tragic event also brought out the hatred that the religious right has for homosexuals and even more hatred for Muslims. The days following the Orlando shooting, I wondered about the state of the world and how we will ever evolve beyond the narrow-minded views of our past.

History is a favourite topic. Over the years I have learned one thing in all of the reading and the traveling I have done – sadly we remain more like cavemen who have developed technology and organizations that we are not intelligent or sophisticated enough to responsibly handle. Hopefully, future generations will look back on this time and wonder how human beings ever made it past this time period. Then again, if we continue as we are, there may not be many future generations.

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