Work In Progress - Commentary on Pride Piece

Originally Published on Medium - August 9, 2018

A couple of days ago I posted an opinion piece on Pride. Since then I have had some very good conversations around the topic, and it has made it clear to me I need to address a few things. While overall I am opposed to many of the retractions and apologies that have been made recently in other spheres, particularly when it is upon mass pressure, that is not my situation and here I think an acknowledgement is indeed needed.

I would like to state the following things to provide clarity and context around the piece:

1. I apologize to anyone who was hurt by my post. It honestly was not my intention. While you may say that does not make a difference, I truly hope it does. In a time where ignorance is often conflated with malice, I still hold that there is a very important difference.

2. The tone of the article was not ideal. While it was in response to an equally problematic opinion from The Globe and Mail, that is no excuse. I am trying to hold myself to a higher state of discourse overall than is most prevalent in today’s public sphere, and I failed with this piece. I have failed before, and I unfortunately am likely to fail again, but I am lucky to have people in my life who can help me understand when and how I fail, so that I can improve. I believe this tone painted my underlying message with a darker than expected brush to some, and likely perpetuated problematic views I do not agree with in others.

3. I do stand by my originally intended point. I fundamentally feel there is a problem on the left with “social” issues right now, and I used Pride as a key example. I do not think that the average person not directly affected by LGBTQ issues needs to care about whether politicians or companies care about pride. I do think pride is important. I do think people in the LGBTQ community have every right to expect their companies and their politicians to care, but I don’t think they have the right to expect other people to hold the politicians to their standards. That is what I believe is going on in the public dialogue, and that I view as problematic. There are many political issues, and I do not agree with the premise that every person needs to live-and-die by the social issues of others. Even if you think they do, I would argue that tactic isn’t working.

4. If it is expected that Pride continues to be an important piece of politics, fine with me. But it cannot be expected that non-LGBTQ people cannot comment. When something is politics, it is public domain. I believe everyone has the right to an opinion on everything, and it is only through dialogue that things actually change and improve, not by grandstanding.

Overall, what I care about more than anything is fixing the broken system of dialogue that now prevails in our public sphere. All I can do right now to rectify that is to share my opinions on topics honestly and openly and be willing to have them changed. I know full well that I may have opinions some may view as ignorant, and perhaps even racist, sexist or homophobic. I can never hope to change my own views without dialogue, and I have chosen the public setting to have those conversations. While some people argue it is my duty to do the research and fully educate myself before putting my opinions out there, I do not think that is conducive to the current climate. I do not think there are easy to navigate sources, and I do not think the average person does this research. It is through open news and discourse that the public gets informed. I am working to create a space where that happens, but I understand that tone is a very important piece of that. As you continue to see my writings and videos, I believe you will see that I am working towards establishing the proper tone.

I hope that by sharing my views, it will encourage others, on any side of any issue, to do the same. That is the only way I see how I can make a difference, and the only path I believe leads to a better future for all.

David BirnbaumPride, LGBTQ