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Pride flies high at UBC Okanagan

Monday, February 8th, 2010 | 6:39 pm

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Pastor Tyler Gingrich speaks to UBC Okanagan community at the Pride flag raising ceremony. (Photo Adrian Nieoczym)

Pastor Tyler Gingrich speaks to the UBC Okanagan community during the Pride flag raising ceremony. (Photo Adrian Nieoczym)

By Adrian Nieoczym

About 50 people stood and clapped in the UBC Okanagan courtyard this afternoon, as the rainbow coloured Pride flag was raised and flown at the same level as the Canadian and B.C. flags.

And there it will stay for the rest of the week as UBCO celebrates Outweek in support of this region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, transsexual, two-spirit and intersex people (LGBTQTTI.)

“It’s important that we send a signal that this is a welcoming place, that people will not be discriminated against because of their sexual preference. It’s that simple,” said the university’s deputy vice-chancellor, Doug Owram.

Owram pointed out that while Canada has come a long way since sexual activity between people of the same gender was legalized in 1968, our society is not yet completely comfortable with non-straight sexualities.

“For many families, for many individuals who are struggling with their own identity, it’s still a challenging issue. I suspect families are torn apart by these things and a lot of people are struggling with acceptance. We’re probably still a generation away from seeing that resolved,” he said.

As well, the level of acceptance is not uniform across the country. For example, it’s a lot easier to be out in a place like Vancouver than it is in Kelowna.

“Being out isn’t necessarily safe in Kelowna, so there’s fear for my family’s well-being,” said one queer student who attended the flag raising but did not want to be identified. “There is still change that needs to be done, stereotypes that need to be broken down.”

One of the speakers at the flag raising was pastor Tyler Gingrich of All Saints Lutheran Church.

“In this community, the Okanagan and Kelowna in particular, I think there’s a pretty restrictive overall view which includes I would say a fairly strong anti-LBGT sentiment,” he said.

He added that that view is often reflected in the kinds of Christianity practised in the valley, though he was quick to point out that there is nothing inherently anti-gay or anti-queer about Christianity itself.

“The community I serve is trying to be a little bit more progressive as far as the type of Sunday services that we do, the type of engagement that we do,” he said, pointing to his congregation’s welcome statement. “It is welcoming of all people including those of various sexual orientations and gender identities.”

Outweek events take place on the UBCO campus until Friday and the celebration culminates in an off-campus party at the Habitat Friday evening.

More information about Outweek events can be found at the UBCO website.

adrian@kelowna.com

250-575-3517

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One Response to “Pride flies high at UBC Okanagan”

  1. Don Shephard says:
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    This should not be an occasion for celebration. What is being promoted is sin. Churches should welcome sinners and churches should not welcome or promote sin.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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