It seems a blindness brought on by a spiral of swirling thoughts that pull in more darkness than light.

    Parched though I am for something to do I have not felt like doing much. About a month ago I “sort of” cut a third of my finger off. I say “sort of” because the band saw saved a thin section of skin on the palm side.

   When you’re struggling and tripping your way out the door of the garage that small bit of skin is more terror than tendon. It is human nature to attempt to survive. I have had many moments of being suicidal and have made attempts at ceasing my life. I am claimed to have died in an ambulance and have a healthy will to live as a result. Very few get a second chance. Even still I cannot always claim this. There are days when I wish I was not here and there have been times it would have been easier not to exist.

   There are times when I get out of bed not wanting to get out of bed. There are moments I can’t see a spec of anything much good in myself or anything or one around me. Most days I would rush from the garage holding a dangling finger. Most days I am on some level aware of at least some blessings and I am able to immerse my soul into life. I have never truly had a reality not worth existing in but I have experienced deserts as I wander in an oasis. Here I cannot see the water and my mind is incapable of manufacturing a mirage. The mind becomes a cocoon to what truly exists. For me it’s like being high beamed by darkness. For a period all I can perceive is the darkness but eventually my sight adjusts and I can at least see the light in the rear view mirror. There has been good. If something in the past was good is there not the possibility that it can at any time exist in the future?
Don’t get me wrong; today and most days I notice and experience mainly mercy. I am surrounded by people, pets, projects and even possessions. I often fire out of bed. My soul can be nourished by even the barbs of life.

     The stigma surrounding suicide seems unfair. It is not a symptom or situation a person would choose. People don’t run their fingers through a band saw on purpose and no one pulls the life out of themselves on purpose. Suicide can happen to anyone. Who chooses to one day find no hope in tomorrow? Who would decide to find the point where suffering is the absolute? It seems a blindness brought on by a spiral of swirling thoughts that pull in more darkness than light. Depression is becoming less stigmatized but we stigmatize those who tragically make an irreversible action as a result of depression.

      When I was in emergency for my finger the doctor advised me to have it completely amputated. I didn’t crash through the garage to have it cut right off! I thought about typing, more woodworking and being able to continue being a terrible guitarist. It’s a lovely piece of finger, maybe the surgeon didn’t want to be at the hospital on a Saturday night. Maybe the surgeon had no use for that third of my finger but I was thinking of some as I waited in emergency.The second time they unwrapped it and let it dangle for the next doctor to see I was a little proud. It was on a perfect forty-five degree angle. It was probably better than any piece of wood I had purposely tried to bring to the same angle.

      Suicide is not a simple inability to perceive it is a matter of being pulled away. There is no humour to life. It’s a bit like having the wind knocked out you. There are moments when try as you might, no breath can be pulled in. Desire is not enough; it is a moment of complete incapacitation.

      I plan on pointing my finger around fairly well. If part of it falls off I will figure out how to do a guitar trick with what remains. Today Iike most of us I’m trying to save every inch of myself. I kind of get a kick out of life most days. I want to be able to pull my finger out and proclaim the miracle. Life is a miracle; every inch of it. After I supposedly died in the ambulance I spent three years in jails with a mental illness and seven years navigating the forensic system. Laughs can be found in both but I would not call the circumstances of my life during this decade easy.

     The word suicidal was washed from my mouth by the correctional system. I was suicidal many times in jail but I would never have told anyone. I said the word once and they put me in solitary confinement. It was only one night that time but being suicidal was preferable to solitary confinement. I cannot condemn someone who doesn’t reach out for help as I have rarely done so myself.

    When you can gauge the light and dark of things and you have the ability to perceive some blessing, you can focus on one small piece of light. It always blocks out a certain amount of darkness. When I have the ability to perceive something small in my life that has value I am like a crow with a coin. I flip it about and other small bits cling to it. Eventually I end up with a wonderful wife, a generous mother and stepfather, three brothers and even the jerk across the road is more friend than pain.

    I wish I could say I never lose sight of all this but something I don’t wish for makes it all vanish. I have spent days in solitary confinement knowing full well no one but the authorities knew where I was. I had an orange jumpsuit, no hair, no eyebrows and no shoes. I paced an 8 by 8 concrete box. I sat on one blanket and I had a Bible. I received no mail or phone calls and a shower or toothbrush were nowhere for days. Depending where you’re standing it would appear I didn’t have much going for me. The big screen was on the fritz and as much as I searched the walls, floor and ceiling I never did find a way to recharge my Smartphone. I wasn’t sure of time itself but not once did I imagine taking my life. I did not try to drown myself by plugging my toilet. I played with its leak until the guards were stepping in water when they came to peer in my four inch window.

    I have lived in solitary confinement while psychotic but I was not suicidal during this time. Some of my time in solitary confinement was fairly content. I had things to do. The people guarding my box needed me. I made friends and told a few I loved them. I shared my spirit with one of the nurses quite innocently and was shipped to another jail. I was robbed of everything I owned when the two fellas returned to drive me back to the jurisdiction of my court. I was warned by the lieutenant and permitted back to my original quarters if I promised to profess less love. I obliged and did so only in French and sign language on jail property from then on. I was banished from banishment’s to the bowels of a system where I was seemingly powerless. Had I owned a suicidal perspective I would have spent my hours forming my head to fit far enough down the toilet to drown myself.
Instead I drew my daughters face and guessed at what years might have done to her features. I imagined my ceiling contained all the stars. My food slot became a patio door and I wrote what I found meaningful on the walls of my cell. I had the ability to notice and converse about the flowers in the nurse’s office. They became a flavour in my mind that remains still. I cannot rationally explain why when I was most likely to be suicidal I was instead fully alive any more than I can explain the opposite.

     There are moments where some cannot notice the fragrances of life. I don’t think it remains for others to condemn someone for that inability. I usually ride out my suicidal feelings. This too shall pass works for me. Eventually and always I return to some point where I find that one good thing. I can once again see the significance of saving even an inch of a finger. What if that little bit comes in handy? What if it has a use or a purpose? Can it not touch a face?

    For now it has reattached itself as something to write about. I don’t have a remedy for suicide but maybe something I have written dusts off a little peace, humour or hope for someone.

The London Free Press has undermined their standing to mount a legal challenge to a bona fide publication ban and have castrated themselves of being a fair voice.

“Keeping in mind her safety. The Free Press never identified her during this week’s trial, even though there wasn’t a court-ordered publication ban.” Free Press

My father was a newspaper editor. He told me once that he often had mothers plead with him to keep Johnny’s name out of the newspaper; specifically the court reporting. My father knew all these people personally as it was a small community. It must have been difficult but he had the integrity to follow ethical and unequivocal news standards. He published my ex-wife’s name when she plead guilty to assault and he would have published mine had he been alive. It was an unenviable position but in some ways it was the easier avenue for my father. If he omitted Johnny’s name he would have to do so for others. The criteria would become chaotic. What would you use as a guide? Do I publish some, a few or just you?
What protocol was followed or not followed in the case of keeping secret the identities of those involved in this case? If the court did not proclaim any issues of safety, who revealed or how were they fashioned by the Free Press? There are rules to publication bans and I think Londoners should be informed of the Free Press instances and exclusions. Is it willy nilly? Does the court reporter throw a coin in the air and call heads? Should I contact the sports editor to find out what the exclusions are? If the court found no legal or so called safety issue and therefore imposed no publication ban what grounds did the London Free Press have? Who advised the Free Press that safety was an issue?
The first day this woman’s identity was unfoundedly protected the London Free Press coverage became prejudiced. It is difficult to protect a victim without creating an offender. It can only be inferred that the Free Press assumed the accused to be guilty prior to him being officially found or in this case claiming to be so. At the point of secrecy both individuals were only alleged.

The London Free Press and or Sun Media have undermined their standing to mount a legal challenge to a bona fide publication ban. They have castrated themselves of being a voice for the community and seem to have an agenda and or are influenced by certain agencies and individuals.
“Keeping in mind safety,” will the Free Press also refrain from revealing identities in other cases? What are the parameters? Who provides the litmus? Is it to be reserved only for alleged victims or will the accused also at times be protected? There are verdicts of not guilty. Will the London Free Press protect an alleged offender? The revelation of their identity creates conditions which are unsafe for them and their families. Some people are only ever accused. What about the accused who will never be found guilty? What about individuals who are Not Criminally Responsible? It is difficult to argue that Vincent Li who killed Tim McLean wouldn’t be safer if his identity was protected.
If find it frightening that the Free Press has taken it upon themselves to identify those worthy of anonymity for safety or any reason outside of a court decision. It flies in the face of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the presumption of innocence.

I Often Find Myself Where I Was Never Expected

I’m not sure I have ever been afflicted with writers block but I do suffer from long silences. I may not put pen to paper but I am usually thinking and as a writer it is always in sentences. Even in my thoughts I manipulate language in my mind. I am often shy about posting and am minus the motivation to speak my truths. Who am I to think another would care what I conjure?
I have a scapegoat for my most recent drought. I have been without paid work in over a decade but of late I am a member of the workforce. I was employed this past decade with speaking, writing and blogging but I am closer to conventional employment these days. I’m not sure milking 1600 goats is conventional but money for manual labour is.
The majority of my work history involves sweat and most recently stiffness. I was going to write sooner of my endeavor into employment but I wasn’t confident of my commitment. For me a disability pension has been a disgrace; I always felt less or worse, lazy. These past few weeks have convinced me again that I am neither. I challenge any twenty something to outperform me in a milking parlour. I’m not bragging, I’m crying.
Writing is a sedentary lifestyle or at least mine was. I sat and smoked organizing my passion into phrases. I have been a month without tobacco and officially a goat milker. I am also officially stupid as I have found a farm where it is my responsibility alone to feed and milk over 1600 goats. That’s two barns full of frustration. Goats are fairly friendly and docile but definitely devious. A goat can see an unfastened gate from a quarter mile and any and all will squeeze through a four millimeter gap.
I’m still trying to figure out if they like to be milked. Feeding is part of the process and though it is a distraction each and every goat knows how to kick off the milking mechanism with a mouthful of food. You might ask “how do you milk 1600 goats in less than five hours?” and some day when I have five seconds or more I will figure it out. The word exhaustion will have to be a clue for now.
When I found the help wanted advertisement I thought, “That might be interesting. I like goats or the three I have met.” I now realize intense is closer than interesting when you’re talking about 1600. I want to quit for the first half of my shift which morphs into I want to finish which is followed by a 35 minute commute where I can say I just milked 1600 goats. I revel in the fact that no other driver on highway 401 is saying anything similar.
It is an agricultural assembly line of sorts but no two goats are the same. Each goat looks different from behind. I don’t have much time to compare but I am recognizing the odd rear end. One goat is freakishly bowlegged and unequivocally the only cooperative goat in the whole flock.
I bought a quart of goat’s milk as a form of job security and I encourage all my readers to do the same. I am giving a one year free subscription to my already free blog for any who mail in proof of purchase. I as yet don’t know how goat’s milk gets distributed in the area but I wouldn’t be surprised if any litre had a spoonful from “my” goats. I can’t say these goats are sweet but a lot of love goes into a gallon.
I use a staff to herd the goats from pen to parlour. I bang it on the gates and walls to speed them from place to place. One goat calmly ignores me. Number 208 waddles along and scratches herself on any and all surfaces. She reminds me not to rush in my fever of frenzy.
Another goat inspires me. It is a young buck who has a triangular wooden yoke fastened around its head to prevent it from escaping from its pen. I find myself confused about six times each night as it defies its constriction and enters and mingles with each pen of goats. I too dislike being told where to be and though not as adept as this bugger I often find myself where I was never expected.

Grace, Grit and My Damn Brother Wherever the Hell He Is

I was once a forestry technician. For any who wonder what exactly a forestry technician does, we basically plant trees in the spring and spend the rest of the year cutting them down. It all made sense to me when I was paid but in hindsight had they hidden the chainsaws, spring would have involved less perspiration.

I am reminiscing because my brother and I did some tree cutting ourselves at the family cottage. It was a long weekend and we actually cut down two trees. I use the term ‘we’ loosely.

My brother and I each have our own chainsaws. Between you and me my brother doesn’t know how to use his. Although his is more dormant I was on this occasion thankful he has one. I was exhausted before we were even near shade. I spent the first hour pulling the chord on mine. It ran quite well but only for a few seconds at a time. I gave up when oil started oozing out of spots I’m pretty sure contain no oil. I found a part in the grass near my folly and I could find no place to reattach it so I surrendered. I’m a tree hugger at heart but by this point I could barely lift my arms.

I sometimes mock my brother’s abilities and equipment but on this occasion I openly embraced his much cleaner and operable saw. We installed my larger blade and chain on his saw and were ready for forestry. We scampered along the slope in front of the cottage next to the tree that was in age more weed than wonder. It grew on a 30 degree angle opposite of where we wanted it to fall and its limbs conspired with their weight in the same direction. It was half rotten at the base and I struggled to make a notch in the side I wished it to fall. I made a cut on the opposite side fully expecting it to transfer its angle and weight in the direction of my desire. In protest it leaned logically and pinched my blade and my brothers saw. My knees were shaking as I know the danger of twisted, leaning, half cut trees. I was soaked with sweat and seriously considered unbolting my blade and handing my brother back the portion he owned. He doesn’t get out much and had been practicing yelling “timber” all morning so I obliged his obsession.

I climbed the hill to the shed where I put my hands on two axes, a hatchet and a sledgehammer. To this day I am unsure of what my brother was doing at the time. If a tree can be obstinate this one was. I placed the axe into the wound the saw had inflicted prior to being pinched. I pounded it in with the sledgehammer until the saw was released. Again, I am unsure what my brother was doing at the time but I heard him exclaim that the saw was free. “Thanks for that.”

I was basically petrified at this point since there was little holding the tree up and I knew it could kick out or fall in any direction, the least likely being the one I wanted. I did a little more cutting with the saw but I was basically at a point a beaver would be ashamed of. A beaver would have enough sense to leave the rest to the wind but I could see the eagerness in my brother’s eyes. I grabbed the axe again and using the sledgehammer pounded it with all my might in the direction the tree was deciding to go. “It’s going…wait…wait… did you hear that?” my brother exclaimed. In fact the tearing noise was fully audible to me as well and did nothing for my trembling knees. I kept swinging the sledgehammer wildly and it finally started to fall in the exact opposite direction of our initial plan.

It was somewhat anti-climatic as it fell into the limbs of other sympathetic trees and landed on the uphill slope as though settling into a favourite chair. I started to limb and cut the trunk into lengths that will eventually warm my mother. I struggled in the mess of leaves and limbs as I maneuvered up the slope. I couldn’t see much for all the trees but in need of someone to pull cut branches out of my way I had to again wonder where my brother was. I finally sawed a path to the top of the hill where the deceased tree had stretched. I stood on the cottage deck and took in the new view. It was only one tree but the view was entirely different. It only took two hours of fiddling, fear and frustration to see things differently. It all reminded me of the many other things I could not see at times in my life. The barriers and obstacles I have had to get past. I would like to say I have removed them myself but many have only been overcome by grace, grit and my damn brother wherever the hell he is.

“Homosexuality is sin Jesus saves from sin” Should we capsulate a portion of a belief system and label the individual?

An individual attended the London Pridefest Parade with a sign that said:

“Homosexuality is sin Jesus saves from sin”

There was a small counter “protest” to mock his belief and I saw one message on Twitter stating that “Mr. Homophobe doesn’t understand.”

Are all Londoners who would agree with this man homophobic?

We need to be careful what we attempt to stomp out for some day we may cherish what we did not recognize as religious freedom and freedom of speech. Dissension has the ability to be a voice only when protected.

This man is some symptom for what he believes? Is a 70 year old man of faith a homophobe for using Biblical precepts? Does this man hate the LGBT…community or is he merely showing them his love? What if further into his faith there is no privilege for homosexuals post mortem? What if it tears at his heart to see people marching away from heaven?

What if the man does not hate but is in fact doing a duty of his faith? Some faiths include passing on God’s Word or a message of salvation. Is there something wrong with sharing faith? Maybe this man believes God loves homosexuals but that it is a sin. Maybe he has no intolerance himself but believes God does.

Maybe this person does not judge homosexuals but is hoping to save them from God’s. What if this person see’s a hole in the street you are about to parade into? Is it okay to point out the hole? I see a man not pointing to a hole but what to him is Holy. This man’s beliefs may have allowed him to endure or accomplish things he otherwise wouldn’t. Maybe the man hopes at least one other person finds the hope, peace, strength and or purpose that he has found within his beliefs.

Does every parade goer need to be a convert?

Why is this individual labelled and discounted? What if it is more spiritual than psychological? I think we are on dangerous ground when faith or belief is labelled as homophobic. Essentially Biblical interpretation becomes censored. It becomes unsafe or unacceptable to freely express any aspect of our beliefs and or non beliefs. Should we capsulate a portion of a belief system and label the individual? If this sign is homophobic we have labelled a number of Londoners as the same. What’s next…medicating them?

If a person believes the Bible is the Word of God and they are called to share their faith I don’t think any label needs to be applied to them. “Homophobe” is a stigmatized identity so we need to be careful who we affix it to. It seems sad that at an event such as Pridefest Parade someone was essentially stigmatized for their faith.

We should take care when trying to remove stigma from ourselves that we don’t place it on another’s head. I rather enjoy a city that differs in faiths, beliefs and thought and I don’t think that sign said much outside of love.

If I believe other things are a sin is it okay to share those beliefs? When Christ said something about offering the other cheek maybe He was also referring to resilience? Turning away is easier than finding some symptom in another’s world view or eternal view.

Calling this man a homophobe would make some members of the LGBT…community homophobes as well. What of the LGBTQ…individual that would find peace in continuing with or a conversion to a faith that commits to heterosexuality? Would you rather them not see such a sign? Can’t God’s messages be for anyone at any stage?

To label something as homophobic pushes a minority of thought into an area of stigmatization we are trying to stamp out. If we want out of swimming in stigma it does no good to pull someone in.

I have been in spaces where only two possibilities exist. It is just you and a box of space or you are part of a reality with possibilities beyond what are rationally explainable. When I lost my reference to self I was defined by my faith. It was what I thirsted for and what sustained me. Even in a jail or prison freedom of religious conscience is only secondary to safety and security.

If we seek acceptance for ourselves is it not a duty to do the same?

Is it imperative that the perceptions of the majority become absolute?

The more I learn about the No Bystanders pledge the more it worries me. I was told it wasn’t worth debating the campaign because it has been so well received. I’m not convinced popularity is proof of merit? Nazism was once popular in Germany.

I am unfamiliar with social engineering but I wonder if the 519 No Bystanders Campaign is an example. It may seem innocuous to those who find agreement with the information being presented but what do we do with a citizen or citizens who believe one or all of the LGBT… identities, practices or actions are immoral? What do we do with the individual whose faith is that?

Is it imperative that the perceptions of the majority become absolute? What if my world is flat? Is it okay that I keep what you may call “colour-blindness”?

The 519 No Bystanders Campaign is also an education program attempting to make Canadian workplaces, services and community environments welcoming, safe and inclusive. The Hear It! Stop It! Campaign promotes actions such as sharing the No Bystanders pledge across organizations. Individuals are to ask colleagues to sign the pledge and display posters.

I see a problem with these methods. There are individuals who may for reasons secular, religious or otherwise want no part of such a campaign. Non-compliance becomes a homophobic gesture when it may be otherwise. The pledge becomes an ultimatum. Majority view and social consequence make pledging and “education” involuntary eventually. The risk is making someone’s beliefs or faith homophobic.

As the pledged group grows there is increasing pressure on individuals to participate. It can’t help but reach a point where choice disappears. Do you want to be the guy in cubicle 6 who would rather not pledge? It becomes an involuntary inoculation of information. When I was in primary school they allowed the Jehovah Witness children to stand in the hallway when the public announcement which included the national anthem and the Lord’s Prayer came on each morning.

Possibly there is no shame in being singled out as a Jehovah Witness but the No Bystanders Campaign makes homophobes out of those who do not support it. Eventually the gal in accounting will be singled out for not participating in a reformation of her own faith.

Perhaps it could be less coercive.

Pridefest: If it is a campaign of conversation “Stop It” is no way to begin it

When you constrict the tongue so too does the mind. The community of London is being encouraged to pledge to not be bystanders to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language. In reference to this pledge the slogan is “If I hear it. I will stop it.”

If it is a campaign of conversation “Stop It” is no way to begin it. ‘If I hear it. I will explain’ seems a more attractive slogan. ‘If I hear it. I will speak.’ It is easier to start a conversation than to institute a conversion.

I don’t have a problem with the tone of this endeavor but I do have an issue with the type. As an individual who experiences a double stigma any effort in the direction of civility and ending stigmatizing language has my support. I also support any and all sexualities and points of gender in or out of a parade.

I was told I could research before I went down to Pridefest so I would be informed enough to avoid being “stopped”. Should people need to be educated to attend an event or should the event educate people? You can’t control ignorance. Stigma does not disappear with the end of insensitive references and terminology. Much of the stigma I experience has nothing to do with insulting words.

We have to let people catch up with their minds before we can make a lexicon let alone enforce it. Not every tongue is tied to the same point of appropriateness. Why would a celebration of variances of sexuality and gender want no variance in expression? This campaign creates a barrier for mindful experimentation in exposing old ideas and perceptions to new information.

Having a faction who has declared to “stop” some hurtful reference or word erodes the inclusiveness LGBT… are trying to create even for themselves. Isn’t not tolerating intolerance, intolerance itself? The individual who may not be up to speed risks some form of public correction of what in essence is a collection of experiences, upbringing, exposure and more.

It seems Londoners are being called to conform to some yet unidentified lexicon. To unleash even a small team of enforcers to the vagueness of insult is worrisome if not more. I don’t think you can argue that an acceptable reference to LGBTQ…“members” is an evolution. The problem with offensive language is it can be anything to anyone. Further it is always changing. It wasn’t many years ago that LGBT was an appropriate short form. Today I don’t even know since it has been altered to be more inclusive. I’m not sure it progresses dialogue to point out a failing of being up to date with each sensitivity in a group of individuals with differences themselves.

How do you define let alone defend a collection of varying sensitivities? It seems this campaign will have an array of individuals with a series of sensitivities correcting and “stopping” an array of individuals who may voice beliefs that have been determined by circumstances they may have not chosen. In essence the most sensitive individual dictates discourse and dialogue dies.

I don’t think you can take a point in time and expect the linear processes of thought and thus speech to equally reflect some unidentified line of right or wrong. You are essentially pulling a rope that will miss those who are better informed while sweeping the feet out from your fellow citizens who may not be at the point you desire.

I don’t get out much but my impression of this festival would be one that allows. Are we at a point where groups demand tolerance? For some Londoners the LGBT… community would be one they know little about. Is it much of an invitation to them to expect each and all to know the parameters of some code of language? Is it fair for those not in the know to research to find your demands? Can’t they just show up? Why throw a wall up for someone who does not totally understand you? Shouldn’t individuals who misperceive be welcome to express themselves freely? The police cannot “stop” what can come from our mouths other than what is codified as improper. The rest falls to free speech.

LGBT… reality and references cannot be imposed on people. Stigma comes from the mind not the tongue. Some Londoners may have more experience in past prejudices than present progressive phrases. Some Londoners are not up to speed with what might be appropriate presently. Should we expect that individual to conform with language that others institute as not publicly permissible at LGBT… events and across the city? Surely with this petition those who sign their names are given a list of what exactly they intend to “stop.”

If you are inviting Londoners to witness your humanity so must you witness the visitor’s. If there is a group in London that is walking around scouting sentences it is a duty to provide a list of what it is this force deems as inappropriate. If such a list has not been compiled already then what is being enforced is at the discretion of each individual pledged. This is unfair. Have the pledged been informed officially how to respond? Have they been told to ask questions first or simply correct? Are Londoners to expect a defined response to something they could invariably say or is that at the discretion of the pledged? If the parameters are black and white they should be printed. Promising to point out offensive remarks on the spot is only fair if the attendee is aware of what is considered offensive.

This campaign focuses on the tip of the iceberg. The tongue is built on a mass of information, experiences, exposures etc. If you cut a person’s tongue out they can still bleed hate. This seemingly innocuous gag order will provide an illusion of respect but create little. If we keep our streets safe for any terms presently legal the opportunity to make an impact on the submerged portion of the iceberg is possible. The tongue is only the tip. Change people’s minds and you don’t have to change what they say.

In my own experience with mental health I have experienced terrible insults but I cannot control where an individual is at. I cannot change their childhood. I cannot change the year they were born. I cannot change what they witnessed or did not witness in media, school etc. The insults I hear are connected to years of misinformation and correcting a word or phrase does little to alter the mass of misunderstanding. It stifles the dialogue when we pounce on phrases and there is the risk the offender will retreat and we will never learn about each other.

Are the pledged pure of speech? Has a lesbian ever made a demeaning remark about mental illness or one with it? It becomes a maze of sensitivities for us all to wander through. There is a point where the offended must provide an element of resilience. To single out an individual for their perceptions, prejudices, and experiences is also unfair and slightly counterproductive.

Individuals who use inappropriate language are often a product of society. Perceptions and prejudices need to be altered before language evolves to the point where it reflects inclusiveness and acceptance. If you want others to accept where you are at then it is only fair to accept where others are at. Insults often arise out of fear and a sense of being threatened. I see this pledge as creating more of the same. When language and opinions are tolerated they can be changed. When you attempt to “stop” language it curtails having opinions and in some cases ends the conversation.

What if an individual with mental illness is at your event and speaks inappropriately? What if this or any individual does not comply? Are there instructions to walk away? You know, enjoy the parade. If you’re looking over your shoulder at what I’m nattering about you will miss seeing the floats. Some of these individuals may be part of your community or transitioning into it. You are going to scold them on the street? I was assured that intent would be taken into consideration but I was not set at ease imagining each and every pledged being a mind reader. I don’t believe you can uncover intent on the sidewalk or at the mall. Legally it can only be proven in court.

If you want others to be tolerant so must you be. Open dialogue is preferable to vows of intolerance. It is unfair not to accept Caitlyn Jenner but it is equally unfair to expect people to transition mentally and socially overnight. If someone I have been exposed to for years showed up as a different or altered gender would it not require time and dialogue to adjust to the new information?

Creating an open and accepting environment becomes difficult when people sign a contract to “stop” anything. It would be hypocritical of me to sign such a pledge without also ensuring I am sensitive to every other individual who is different from me. I would need a PhD just to keep track. It is impossible to end intolerance and stigma by attempting to ban it.

For some Londoners attending Pridefest requires leaving their comfort zone. This pledge is a poor replacement. We all have prejudices however slight. Much of a prejudice is not intentional thought. People don’t purchase “Intolerance for Dummies” and study ignorance. It stems from a lifetime of information. I’m not sure we should fault people for what they may or may not know.

There may come a day when everyone is sensitive to TGBLQ… individuals but to force it will only create a semblance of change rather than real change. My sense is that Pridefest has changed and evolved as have Londoners in general even over the past five years. Did this evolution occur with a pledge campaign? Will it not continue to evolve without a pledge?

LGBT…individuals have millions of supporters, are organized, have political influence and presently a friendly government. Many in our community do not have any of these things. Celebrate what you are but be grateful for what you have been able to obtain. They are privileges some do not have. As far as this pledge I would firstly question my own mouth before I vowed to refashion someone else’s.