A Snowflake in Alberta

I’ve managed to isolate myself, thus far in life, in a pretty beautiful, leftist, open-minded, loving community. Growing up in theatre, going to a liberal university, working for an organization that was very clear on its stance for equality. Living in Vancouver, it was pretty tricky to find someone whose ideologies didn’t match up with mine, at least for the most part. In fact, the people that I surrounded myself with constantly encouraged me to be more open minded, more proactive, and increased my awareness of creating environments where everyone felt safe. I think that’s a pretty cool community to be a part of. But, in isolating myself in my loving liberal bubble, I guess I also isolated myself from the actuality of bigotry and closed-mindedness.

As far as privilege goes, I’m pretty high up there. I’m white, I am in a heterosexual relationship, I am able bodied, I am cisgender, I am not overweight. Have I been sexually harassed? Of course I have, but no one has ever made me to feel bad about my physical appearance. No one has ever seen me holding hands with my (white, male) partner and felt the need to express their disgust.

As such, I’ve felt pretty safe in this world, and though I heard stories that made me angry and sad, I’d never really witnessed them full out. This is obviously a huge privilege in itself- the fact that I hadn’t born witness to the horrors so many people feel is a huge part of why I’m able to walk through the world so confidently, and is an experience that most people of colour, queer-presenting individuals and others have not had the chance to share.

So, now I live in Alberta again. Undeniably not the same accepting community I had come to know in Vancouver, but a big city with some great things going for it, so again, I figured I would maintain a similar community, and all would be well. My friends are fantastic, the three companies I work for are too- cultivating safe spaces for all. But this province has recently elected someone I abhor, and I’m starting to feel like bigotry is climbing out of the woodwork. Clearly it was always there, but very much like in America, these people have now been given a soapbox to stand on, and that makes me very scared.

I’m really mad. A few weeks ago, myself and my friends witnessed a meltdown that, while it might not be considered a hate crime, was certainly fueled by bigotry, and was very frightening. Now I’m seeing people and their “views” being broadcast all over the place (again- I hadn’t seen this much, my Facebook page in particular has always been a rainbow-filled love fest, or, when they were angry, were angry about things they have every right to be).

I don’t really know why I’m writing this post. I guess I just feel a little bit powerless because I want to take on these issues, these people, but I’m also pretty sure there’s no changing their mind. I also feel like a jackass for whining about it, because I know this is not news to a looooot of people. I guess I just always managed to isolate these issues as far away and not local to my very neighborhood. It’s very clear that is not the case. And that makes me very sad.

So I guess I just want to send some love out there. If I’m feeling this downtrodden, I feel like it’s maybe a tiny glimpse into what other people have experienced, and I’m so sorry and so sad that you’ve had to deal with that. I love you, and I am on your team.

Next up: work on finding ways to actually make a difference. Right now though, I’m just going to curl up and be sad for a sec okay?

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