Today is Pink Shirt Day in Canada. 12 years ago, a boy wore a pink shirt to school, first day of Grade 9 – entry to high school. And he was bullied. Because, so it seems, only “homos” wore pink shirts, and to be a “homo” was wrong. Wrong enough for other boys to threaten this child with violence.
They were going to beat him up. Being perceived as gay was a reason to fear for his physical safety. This isn’t a new thing, is it? All of those who aren’t part of the majority have learned to hide in certain situations, haven’t we?
But this story had a different ending – 2 grade 12 boys decided this was wrong, bought 50 pink t-shirts and invited people who knew this was not ok to torment another person for not being the same as the people in power, to wear them. Pink Shirt Day was born.
The day the by-standers didn’t sit by, didn’t turn away, didn’t go along with it. But took a stand to support the vulnerable. It’s become anti-bullying day.
This year, Pink Shirt Day came the day after the United Methodists in the United States, a large, mainline denomination not too different from my own, made a public statement of its own. Gay people cannot be ordained into ministry. Same-sex weddings are not permitted in these churches.
Not quite the threat of being beaten up on the playground, but the message is exactly the same. Homos aren’t welcome here. In case I’ve gotten too complacent in my safe little bubble, the message has been received.
And I just want to weep. I want to sit down on my front step and just cry – seriously? With all the pain and poverty and violence in the world, why do you hate enough to spend your time shutting me and my kind out? Don’t you have better things to do, the things that Jesus did – feeding, healing, advocating, welcoming? Why be part of the haters?
My question is – who will buy the pink shirts this time? Where are the bystanders who will stand up and say “no” to the exclusion, and empower others to do the same? I’m tired of the permission that has been given to build a wall, be a racist, be a bully, led by our politicians and leaders – and bringing the racists, xenophobes, homophobes, misogynists and all the other haters into the light, emboldened by the example that has been given. How many pink shirts do we need to buy, and who is going to wear them?
Pink Shirt Day – it’s a beginning, but only the amuse bouche. We have So. Much. Work. To. Do.
I’ll need an extra big cup of coffee today. And a whole lot of friends and allies dressed in all our rainbow colours to get through this day.