By Mike Archer. Glenda Luymes of The Province newspaper used a phrase in her story about Abbotsford’s first-ever gay pride parade yesterday in describing the significance of the change the parade represents in Abbotsford’s evolution as a community – from hostility to tolerance.
The fact that the parade went off without incident is a testament to the fact that, though it may sometimes feel as slow as pouring cold molasses, Abbotsford is changing.
From its angry, cold and mean-spirited intolerance of those who are born different to its misguided war on the victims of drugs, the far right element of the political and social spectrum in Abbotsford has a lot to answer for in imposing its out-of-date, demonstrably false and painful agenda on those it has been unable and unwilling to understand or welcome to the community over the decades leading up to Saturday.
Two politicians who deserve a great deal of credit for their courage in attending the parade are Mayor Bruce Banman and freshly-minted MLA Darryl Plecas as does the Abbotsford Police Department.
Both men are familiar with the iron grip with which some of those who control the public agenda in Abbotsford from behind the scenes have forced their outdated and hurtful values on others, most often on men, women and children unable to defend themselves against the brutal onslaught on their own value and values.
It feels as though I am writing in pre-civil rights Alabama when discussing the progress Abbotsford has made in learning to treat people as though they all have value, but such is the reality in a community where belief often trumps truth or the mere fact that someone is tolerated – not embraced, but tolerated – is held out as a significant step forward.
Saturday’s Gay Pride Parade was a tremendous success and organizers deserve credit for making the decision to make it a celebration rather than a protest.
If the event causes one more business in Abbotsford to become more gay-friendly or allows one more LGBT citizen to feel safe on the streets of their city it was well worth the effort.