Originally I was going to write a post for The Great Canadian Blog Bash about some of the wonderful things my USA boyfriend and I were planning to do during his visit this July. People frequently complain that Toronto is an expensive city. I know from experience that there are a slew of things that can be done for free and thought it might be fun to share.
But then something happened.
The last week in June is Pride Week in Toronto. The Pride Parade has been an annual summer event for as long as I can remember. And it is a huge boon for tourism money in the week leading up to the main parade on the Sunday that precedes our Canada Day holiday. In fact (I\’ll find a link to it) it brings in more Toronto Tourist Money than any other event all year long. My heterosexual Mother has been attending for at least a decade because she loves the sense of community and welcoming that she experiences while the festivities occur.
Why do I bring this up?
My boyfriend was born, raised and lives in North Carolina. Without going into stereotypes of The South or debating what your personal experiences have been, let\’s agree that he lives in an environment that is not consistently accepting of individuality that differs from \”the norm\”. He is a Caucasian American. I\’m a mixed UK Caucasian and Caribbean Black who was born in Canada. In North Carolina that makes us an inter-racial couple. You\’re thinking \”Uh yeah. And everywhere else in the world too.\” But here\’s the difference. No one, ever, at any point in our relationship, in Canada, has ever asked us how we manage with the difficulties of being in an inter-racial relationship. I\’ve been asked that many times in North Carolina. I\’m still confused by the question. In Canada, he and I don\’t have difficulties for being an inter-racial couple. In Toronto, every race dates and marries every race, to produce offspring of every mixture. Our Canadian struggle/debate had been same-sex marriage. Ten years ago. 2013 marks the 10 year anniversary of marriage equality in Canada.
As a Country, we have agreed that the Government does not belong in our Bedrooms nor does it belong in our Bodies.
We have same sex marriage, legal abortions, health care for all citizens, open discussions about mental illness, a social net for financial security, and acknowledgment that our Native community are the First Nations People (yes, we took their land).
We don\’t all agree on all aspects of these items, and we will be vocal about our disagreements. But we agree to disagree. And we continue to be polite. And we are honest about our differences.
During his first meeting of a group of my friends (about 20 of us) we were on a restaurant patio enjoying food and drinks. My friends asked him heaps of questions, and had several lively discussions about their perceived downfalls about the USA. Since he was the only US representative there, he heard a lot of \”You people\”, \”Your country\”, \”Your gun love\” even though the \”You\” really meant \”the USA\”. My daughter\’s Aunt was in the midst of a VERY lively discussion with him for a significant period of time then scooted off to the bathroom. He turned to me in dismay and whispered \’I can\’t believe she hates me so much.\’ I told him he was wrong, that it was just talking about opinions and it wasn\’t personal. He couldn\’t believe me. In his society, that discussion would result with him being shunned from the community. They would talk behind his back about him but then smile to his face.
It isn\’t hypocrisy; it\’s a way of life in that culture. If you don\’t like a dish someone made, you don\’t say that; you eat some, say nothing, try to hide the leftovers. What do we do here? We say something like \’this isn\’t to my taste\’, \’it\’s probably great but I hate eggplant\’, or some such thing. And no one is offended or upset or holds a grudge. We agree to disagree and you get your pick of something else to eat. Canadians tend to do this with everything. We are honest about our opinions. Even with the big things – religion, government, homosexuality, birth control, gun violence.
So what happened to change my Free Toronto post to this?
Justin Trudeau (oh – that family is a great example of what divides our people!) sent a tweet that he would be attending Church on Church before walking in the Pride Parade. A person replied with a comment about being a member of the Church, who is a main contributor to the plight of the LGBTQ community\’s struggles. Despite my better judgement, I engaged that person by tweeting that I believe in God but not Religion. The response is the personification of the Canadian culture of acceptance:
So what is my greatest source of pride in being Canadian? That we are a tapestry of people, not a pot forcing others to conform, and that we accept individuals for who they are. We don\’t dislike others solely based on their beliefs, but based on their personality traits. We\’re an honest people who value the individual.
You may disagree. I\’m okay with that.
On a completely different note… To participate in The Great Canadian Blog Bash giveaways, please visit this page.