It’s funny how something designed to show inclusion can be so divisive.
When we posted a story about the Williams Lake Pride Committee hoping to install a rainbow crosswalk in Williams Lake, we were shocked at the attention it received.
As of writing time, on Tuesday afternoon, a Facebook post asking your opinion had 104 reactions and 48 comments. Our original story on the issue had 169 reactions and 43 comments. Since the post, city council members unanimously showed their support for the walk.
Why? Is the installation of a few lines of bright colours meant as a symbol of inclusion really such a big issue in our community?
In particular, is it really something that is worth getting enraged over? In the past week we have done stories on a suspicious death in a First Nations community, a stabbing on city streets, on the City of Williams Lake to put GPS tracking anklets on prolific offenders. Surely all of these issues impact more people negatively than a couple of lines of paint.
At worst, one crosswalk will be different than all the others in Williams Lake, and the city might have to spend a few extra dollars maintaining it (the Pride Committee has plans to fundraise for the installation, and if they can, the maintenance of the walk themselves).
At best, a community of people who historically have felt themselves ousted and unwelcome (and, if they read some of our Facebook commenters’ opinions, certainly might continue to feel that way currently) will see a sign that they are welcome and that they are loved and accepted for who they are.
Among us are friends, neighbours, coworkers, business owners and community members — people who we know well, and may never have known fit into this community.
To all who have ever felt excluded, or different. To all who have ever been afraid to show their true selves. To all who have ever felt unwelcome because of any aspect of their identity, we sincerely hope that you feel safe in Williams Lake.
As one of our Facebook commenters so eloquently put it:
“If a beautiful coloured crosswalk makes anyone feel happy and loved, fantastic. I’d paint a thousand for my daughter and any human who has felt different and unaccepted.”
— Williams Lake Tribune