Volunteers Painting Rainbow Crosswalk Get Harassed in Saskatchewan

Written on 06/23/2021
Staff Columnist

A volunteer group was painting a rainbow and trans pride crosswalk in Saskatchewan when a homophobic confrontation erupted - CBC News reports.

Logan Roberts was one of the volunteers painting the flag on the street in Saskatoon's Broadway neighbourhood on Wednesday, June 16.

Although many people were driving by and honking or showing their support in other ways, one man drove past the group and started yelling racist comments at some of the painters. He then parked his car and walked back to the crosswalk, Roberts told CBC.

He said the situation is an example of why Pride Month is still vital.

"...He started grabbing the barricades that had been set up just for the safety while we were painting, and he started throwing them and yelling and saying how we were just stupid and destroying the country," said Roberts, a transgender, bisexual man.

The group called the police, and the man was charged with causing a disturbance with a court date set in November.

Roberts pointed out that these incidents are more common than people realize.

"We're lucky that in Canada, gender identity and sexual orientation is protected in law … but despite that, there is still a lot of violence, a lot of hate, a lot of misunderstanding."

Jack Saddleback told the CBC that these incidents happen every Pride Month. He's the co-interim executive director at OutSaskatoon and board co-chair of the 2 Spirits in Motion Society.

"It is, in my honest opinion, that people do not realize that homophobic and transphobic acts like this happen every single year here in Saskatoon," Saddleback said.

"These mentalities, these behaviours still permeate their way in our own city and in our own backyards," he continued.

Saddleback, a Cree two-spirit transgender gay man, added that Pride Month fights back at this type of harassment.

Something as simple as painting a crosswalk, like the one Roberts helped with, contributes to ensuring LGBTQ people are seen and heard.

"We exist despite this larger system.… In many ways, the Canadian colonial system was set up to try and silence people who are two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer," Saddleback said.

"So the visibility is key to put a beacon out there that we exist, we will exist, and we will always exist."

He explained that incidents like this week's in Saskatoon can be harmful, adding that allies should help stand up against homophobia.

Saddleback reminded the CBC that Pride started as a riot to invoke change for the LGBTQ community to live and love in liberation, and everyone should keep working toward that goal.

(Image Credit: Logan Roberts)