Students and teachers from Rossland Summit School celebrate the opening of Rossland’s rainbow crosswalk last September. (Chelsea Novak/Rossland News)

EDITORIAL: Minority rules in our colourful culture

Quibbles over symbolic rainbow crossings belie critics’ genuine concerns

There’s something all-too revealing in the critical comments that swirl around online whenever the media reports on community efforts to install rainbow-coloured crosswalks.

You likely have heard of such crosswalks by now. After bursting on the scene in major cities a half-decade ago as a form of protest art and a symbol of support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered, sanctioned versions have been popping up in smaller communities as a way for civic leaders to show acceptance for those in the minority.

And even in these inclusive communities, critical comments typically begin with a question of cost; include arguments about the message being exclusive by highlighting ‘gay pride’; and usually finish when skidmarks mar the crosswalk soon after installation, with armchair critics demanding proof that the vandal was targeting the rainbow’s message and not just simply spinning his wheels.

For some, these arguments are locked, loaded and ready to fire.

Such comments popped up when we reported of the enthusiastic embrace received last week by two woman who had approached White Rock council to seek permission to raise funds for rainbow crosswalks at Five Corners. (Not only did Mayor Wayne Baldwin champion their cause, his suggestion that the city fund the crosswalk was unanimously endorsed.) And we expect to hear similar criticisms this week as the City of Surrey announces a similar project near Holland Park at the north end of town.

The question for such commenters, though, is – why?

Why publicly question such costs, when surely the price of installing a multicolour crosswalk is a pittance compared to expenditures that warrant nary a peep? Why point out the exclusivity of such a symbolic message for the LGBT community, when recorded history has shown a desperate lack of greater public inclusiveness for its members? And why note that the vandal who defaced the rainbow might not be making a political statement?

In short, why make the effort to post such microaggressions if your real message is that you don’t want society to be seen as accepting of non-straight people?

Say it loudly and proudly.

Just note that in our culture, you are at long last in the minority.

– Peace Arch News

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