On Pink Triangle Day 2021 we embrace love’s diversity by celebrating LGBTQI2S+ people, families, and communities. We also reaffirm our solidarity with struggle against the oppression of the Ford Conservative government and wider homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in our society.

In Nazi Germany, thousands of LGBTQI2S+ people were sent to concentration camps where they were identified by a pink triangle. Many died wearing that symbol. To commemorate those victims and as a reminder that they are still targets for persecution, LGBTQI2S+ communities reclaimed the Pink Triangle as a symbol of pride, love, and peace.

In Canada, the Pink Triangle is also used to symbolize a major victory in the fight for LGBTQI2S+ rights. In the 1970s, three gay activists were charged with indecency for an article that appeared in the Toronto-based magazine The Body Politic. On February 14, 1979, the publishers were acquitted of all charges. Pink Triangle Day was proclaimed by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Rights Coalition to mark that victory

Today, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how discrimination and hate flourish during times of social stress. But it also shows the strength of our solidarity and the power that reclaiming symbols can still hold—like gay men taking over the #ProudBoys hashtag on social media.

We will need every ounce of strength and solidarity in the face of the challenges before us—especially in Ontario. You can’t have a provincial government that says it honours the lives of LGBTQI2S+ folks and then grants powers to a private religious college to grant degrees when they are known for their unrepentant homophobia & transphobia, as Doug Ford did in the case of Canada Christian College.

This is but the latest in a legacy of hate. Whether his scrapping of modern sex-ed in favour of an outdated curriculum that does not acknowledge LGBTQI2S+ people or issues, or his work with homophobic extremist Charles McVety, Doug Ford’s contempt for queer people is clear.

Ultimately, actions matter—whether by our political leaders, by community leaders, by leaders of organizations of all kinds, and by each and every one of us. We must all be mindful of the part we play in making LGBTQI2S+ people feel safe, loved, and appreciated in our schools, workplaces, and communities.

CUPE Ontario is actively challenging the Ford Conservative agenda and combating anti-LGBTQI2S+ persecution. CUPE Ontario’s Pink Triangle Committee is working to create safer, fairer workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, intersex and queer-identified union members. Through political action and key events, they advocate for harassment-free workplaces and communities. Visit their website at www.cupe.on.ca/committees/pink-triangle/ and follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cupeoptc.