There was a lot of pride being taken in the work at Maple Ridge secondary on Wednesday morning.
Lorna Seip, from the MRSS grad class of 1991, was proud of her high school, as she oversaw the Rainbow Club painting a new emblem on the wall outside the main entrance.
Designed to be an image of diversity and inclusion, it combines colours of both the SOGI (sexual orientation, gender identity) and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) flags, and beside it is the quote “None of us are equal until all of us are equal.”
Seip owns the Chilliwack-based painting company Two Girls on a Roll, and supervised the work for the Rainbow Club while the lighthearted activists painted, listened to music and munched pizza. The kids chose the design, and Seip thought it was fantastic.
She talked about her personal journey, and what that symbol might have meant, had it been on her school in 1991.
“I would have been able to come out a lot sooner, if I had support like this,” she said. “A visible sign is so important.”
Seip was in the school Bible club at MRSS, and an admittedly homophobic teen. After grad, she was working as a missionary in Baja, Mexico when she fell in love with a young woman who was her best friend. She talked about her feelings, and was referred for conversion therapy.
“That was definitely a harmful thing. I built a self hatred, and experienced the world differently because of that.”
She said the symbolism of acceptance can help spare people that kind of pain, and she was happy to be putting it on the wall at her alma mater.
Seip has painted rainbows for residents of Chilliwack, where there was controversy after the city denied the painting of a rainbow crosswalk.
Maria Trudeau is one of the teachers who runs the Rainbow Club, and said it is a way of marking May 17, which is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
“When people walk in the door, they need to know this is the place they’re walking into,” she said.
It is important that each student feel a sense of belonging in the school, and the new image fosters that, Trudeau added.
Seip had her 18-year-old son Caleb, a 2020 grad, working with her. As a boy he grew up with a straight mom, she said, until she came out when he was 11. Wednesday, as the mural took shape, and she talked about what it meant to her, he came and hugged her.
“I’m so proud of you,” he said.
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