While I must confess both the visual feast of the advertisement and its playful pun caught my attention, something seemed a bit... well, queer.
I had been to said aquarium (in months other than June), and the business did not strike me as particularly LGBTQ-friendly. I don't remember being impressed with a representative presence of gay, lesbian or trans folks who work at or patronize the place. And did they have gender-inclusive washrooms? I don't recall, actually (which probably means they didn't).
So it struck me as a bit odd (or queer, if you will) that this same establishment was now promoting itself as a fun place for the gays to hang out. In fact, it made me think of any number of allegedly LGBTQ-friendly businesses that seem to crawl out of the woodwork around Pride month.
It's June, y'all, and suddenly everyone is all supportive of the homos!
But the truth is, it just all feels a little, well, insincere.
A gay colleague was complaining to me recently about how it frustrated him that so many of the younger fags just think Pride month is a party. They forget, he lamented, the sacrifices that bought them the freedom to frolic freely down the street amongst friends and allies all weekend long.
They forget that the first pride marches were riots, political protests designed to raise awareness amongst a mainstream that could no longer afford to ignore a critical mass, and to demand from that mainstream the same basic human rights that they enjoyed.
And those who have have only a superficial understanding of their significance in our tribe's history.
So what I want to know is, where was TD Bank or Telus, who proclaim #lovewins and claim to be #foreverproud, when Rev Brent Hawkes was on Day 17 of his 25-day hunger strike in 1981, protesting police brutality and demanding an inquest into the bathhouse raids? (Or where were they, for that matter, 25 years later, when this same Canadian hero wore a bullet-proof vest to perform the first same sex wedding ceremonies in the world?!)
Nationally, we're faring no better: It was only this past year that our Prime Minister finally acknowledged and apologized for decades of discrimination against LGBTQ Canadians; meanwhile, conservative leaders in our country continue to proudly promote homophobic policies.
Gay men find themselves at greater risk for violent crime, simply because they are gay, and it's no secret that LGBTQ youth are five times as likely to be homeless as those who identify as cis-gender and/or straight.
Women, POCs and members of the Indigenous community who also happen to identify as LGBTQ are hit with a double whammy.
Where, pray tell, are all the proud businesses when it comes time to take action and create practical solutions to these very real problems that face our community? Where are they when it's time to take a stand and speak up for what's right, even when it's not popular or sexy?
Nor will I climb unassumingly into bed with any business who slaps a rainbow onto their June advertising without the faintest idea of what their previous decades-long silence has meant to us.