Pride Matters

How a New Brunswick community lacks understanding

Earlier this week, a small village by the name of Chipman in New Brunswick gained notoriety for flying a flag developed for “straight pride.” The flag was lowered the following morning in response to public outcry. 

This comes mere months after Sussex, NB encountered complaints for implementing rainbow sidewalks and Woodstock, NB had their rainbow sidewalks vandalized.

The pride flag was initially developed in 1978, where Gilbert Baker was pressed by Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California, to create an emblem of empowerment for the queer community. It consisted of eight colours but would later be redesigned to include six.

In an except from Gilbert Baker’s memoir “I had considered all flag-waving and patriotism in general to be a dangerous joke. But that changed in 1976. The American Bicentennial celebration put the focus on the American flag. It was everywhere, from pop art to fine art, from tacky souvenirs to trashy advertising. On every level, it functioned as a message.

I thought how most flags represented a place. They were primarily nationalistic, territorial, iconic propaganda – all things we questioned in the ‘70s… The rainbow came from earliest recorded history as a symbol of hope… Now the rioters who claimed their freed at the Stonewall Bar in 1969 would have their own symbol of liberation.”

The importance of the rainbow pride flag denotes the different plights suffered by the LGBTQ+ society. From common discrimination, to larger hate crimes and murder, the flag is often interpreted as the freedom for individuals to express themselves in a welcoming space. 

The Chipman council issued a statement saying, “Council’s decision to allow a straight pride flag to be raised in the community was based on our desire to support all groups in our municipality and to respect everyone’s right to freedom of speech in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedom.” In their statement they address the understanding that “The straight flag is being seen as a flag of privilege and anti-minorities which our community and our council does not support.” 

Glenn Bishop, the developer of the flag, was shocked to hear of the flag’s removal telling CTV “That’s disgraceful. This is discrimination against straight people.” Bishop claims he is considering legal action against the village.

In an interview with Global News Helen Kennedy, executive director of human rights group Egale Canada, states that the choice to raise the flag “likely stems from the lack of understanding of the real symbolism of the pride flag, as well as a lack of understanding about the hardships faced by Canada’s LGBTQ community”

Kennedy continues, “I think it’s really unfortunate that the community has done this because it further marginalizes LGBTI people and it makes them feel really unsafe in their communities.”