The Pride of Hubbard, The End.

The Pride of Hubbard, The End.

The sun is shining its brightest best, grills across the country are being fired up, and various bodies of water are being filled to the brim with life. In the words of the legendary Nina Simone, “I’m feelin’ good.’

Welcome to the final part of our Pride series. In previous iterations, we have covered the origins of the Pride Parade as well as the origin of the Pride flag itself.

One thing that has become abundantly clear, then, is that the road to Pride is full of immense struggle, sacrifice, and sheer willpower.

Yet, the focus on most LGBT+ history tends to be on the movements in the United States. Canada, though, has its own rich – if not morbid – history.

Much like in the United States, LGBT+ movements didn’t truly start gaining momentum until the late 1960s. However, it wasn’t until 1981 when the movement kicked into high gear.

February 5th, 1981. Patrons of four bathhouses in downtown Toronto were going about their daily activities as if it were a normal day. Except, on this day, 200 police officers were coordinating raids on these establishments – “Operation Soap”.

The police force had spent six months undercover and found what they deemed to be “indecent acts” at each of these establishments. After a day of raiding, over 300 men were arrested. Yet, as many expected, the vast majority of these cases were thrown out.

The objective of these raids became clear – the police knew that the charges wouldn’t stick in the long-run, but it was the ideal way to strike fear into individuals and deter them from engaging in such a lifestyle.

These raids would go on for years and years to come – with a major one occurring in Toronto in the year 2000 during a women-only event. As with most previous raids, charges were dismissed. However, there was one difference this time around.

After the raid in 2000, a lawsuit was filed against the Toronto police. This eventually led to the development of training programs on how to interact with the LGBT+ community.

The relationship between the Pride movement and law enforcement, then, was strained for decades upon decades. All the way from the 1960s when people identifying as part of these movements were categorized as “sexual psychopaths” to the raids that occurred into this millennium – it is no wonder that the relationship was strenuous at best.

Things, though, are improving. Since the 2010s especially, the movement and its focus has become more nuanced – something that has only been possible due to the multitude of small battles that have been won along the way in regards to rights.

One such individual who has seen these changes throughout the years is Hubbard’s very own, John Hubbard.

I sat down with him to get his perspective on the matter.

 “Pride brings together communities and that’s what I love about it. Communities are the cornerstone of our society and, together, they have immense strength,” he said.

The idea of community and togetherness is clearly very important to John. He added that “I have always been emotionally moved by camaraderie, fellowship, and stories of people helping each other – these things are all good for the soul.”

This mindset, though, didn’t come about spontaneously. A major contributing factor to this was his upbringing – one that focused on being inclusive and diverse.

 “I was lucky enough to grow up in a progressive environment – I had friends who were gay, even an uncle; it was very normal for me,” he concluded.

It does make you think. The pattern seems to be that those who grow up in accepting, progressive environments end up having these values ingrained in themselves as they mature. To this point, John said “occasionally you do meet ignorant people – and ignorance is always at the heart of discrimination. Whether it’s discrimination against race, religion, gender, or sexuality; ignorance is the foundation of it.”

Education, then, is crucial when it comes to opening eyes and minds alike. Yet there are many forms of education. Whose responsibility should it be? Is there a standard that we should all be living up to?

“The only way to end discrimination is to educate. I believe a combination of social and institutional education is important,” he claimed. “Education starts at home,” continued John. “Biases get developed at home and that leads to further discrimination. We have a responsibility as parents, as a community, to ensure we are being good role models for future generations.”

This focus on education has its basis in a few different things. There is obviously the responsibility to educate those around us on the severity of issues regarding discrimination; but there is also a more intricate aspect that sometimes gets lost.

“If a kid hears “locker room talk”, that will eventually lead to some form of discrimination – whether that is against the LGBT+ community or violence against women,” John said.

One moment that struck out to him in particular was a visit to a university. John recalled, “I was doing a tour of a university and saw this poster on a door. It had a bunch of words on it and it really made a good point of stating that we shouldn’t use “gay” as a derogative of other things. I thought it was a great way to illustrate that point.”

 

There, then, lies the nuance. It is within the very language we speak – the commonplace words used on a daily basis. It wasn’t long ago where anything even remotely subpar was dismissed as being “gay”. More often than not, this dismissal had nothing to do with sexuality – yet the assertion that anything that wasn’t liked was “gay” provided a dangerous precedent.

Language evolves organically and it is that organic change that is the most sustainable. However, while organic change can take generations to fully come to fruition, it seems there has been an enlightenment in the past decade. This change, then, has been a team effort.

“Helping people is powerful. Togetherness is powerful,” John concluded.

These changes have followed suit to the workplace. As the President of the company, John is all-too-familiar with the different complexities that go into building a healthy work environment. A multitude of things need to be taken into consideration when building the right company culture.

“I like diversity,” he said. “I like it when people don’t take themselves too seriously, and you need to have that understanding of different cultures and lifestyles. It brings more flavour – as seen in our potlucks!” he joked.

This diversity – and the inclusive environment resulting from it – is not an accident. According to John, “especially in business, it is crazy not to have a workforce that accurately represents the diversity in society.”

Eventually, it all comes down to having a conversation. Without conversing, ideas won’t get shared and bliss will continue to befall those who are ignorant. “It is key to talk to people. Whether it’s with friends, family, confidantes – the best way to deal with a struggle is to open up and talk about it,” John said in closing.

Whether you are the one who is struggling through something or you’re someone who can see another’s struggle, a conversation must be had – it is imperative. To process thoughts and emotions is to address them and to speak to them. Even if the desired support isn’t always available, just by virtue of verbalising such thoughts means there is a chance at progression.

In the end, if we aren’t working towards a more inclusive, more positive finality then what are we working towards?

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