Today is Pink Triangle Day, a date on which we acknowledge and celebrate 2SLGBTQI+ people, families, and communities. At CUPE Ontario, we reaffirm our solidarity against 2SLGBTQI+ oppression in all its forms, as well as against all forms of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in our society.
The name, Pink Triangle Day, has its own sombre origins. In Nazi Germany, thousands of 2SLGBTQI+ people were sent to concentration camps, where gay men were made to wear a pink triangle as a badge of identification and lesbians, as “asocial” prisoners, were made to wear black triangles. Even after camps were liberated, persecution against 2SLGBTQI+ people continued. To commemorate those victims and as a reminder that 2SLGBTQI+ people are still targets for oppression, members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community reclaimed the Pink Triangle as a symbol of pride.
In Canada, the Pink Triangle is also symbolic of a major victory in the fight for 2SLGBTQI+ rights. In 1978, three officers of Pink Triangle Press, publisher of the Toronto-based gay liberation magazine, The Body Politic, were charged with distributing indecent and obscene materials, based on an article that appeared in the publication. After a ten-day trial, the officers were acquitted of all charges on February 14, 1979. Pink Triangle Day was proclaimed later that year by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Rights Coalition to mark that legal victory.
Despite past victories, we look around us on Pink Triangle Day and see that that the fight for 2SLGBTQI+ rights is far from over. In the United States, right-wing extremism has spawned alarming attacks on the rights of 2SLGTQI+ people, restrictions on classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity, book-banning in schools, and reversals of hard-won legal gains. In Canada, recent municipal and school board elections have been tainted by candidates with both open and hidden transphobic agendas.
Because those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, CUPE Ontario remains committed to remembering and honouring past achievements, as well as to remaining vigilant to the forces that threaten their legacy. CUPE Ontario’s Pink Triangle Committee is a key part of that vigilance, as we continue to challenge all forces, including the Ford government, on policies, practices and thinking that lead to 2SLGBTQI+ persecution.
In our union, the Pink Triangle Committee works to create safer, fairer workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, intersex and queer-identified union members. Through political action and key events, its members advocate for harassment-free workplaces and communities. To learn more, visit the PTC website at cupe.on.ca/committees/pink-triangle/ and follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cupeoptc.