All in a Flap about Flags
Activist outrage at small Ontario town for not flying the Pride flag
CBC reports a “controversial decision” by the township of Norwich to fly only civic flags (national, provincial, municipal) on the township’s flagpoles and “to no longer fly the Progress Pride flag”.
I could not find any CBC report on Norwich’s decision to ever fly the Progress Pride flag in the first place, which was no doubt also controversial.
But wait. What, you may wonder, is the Progress Pride flag? Behold:
Who is represented here? It’s quicker to say who is not, namely “cisgendered heterosexuals” (pardon my newspeak). Especially of European descent. So, Norwich, basically.
The more familiar and now ubiquitous six-coloured rainbow Pride Flag first flew in the “Gay Freedom Day Parade” in San Francisco in 1978. It quickly became an international symbol of gay pride. The plain old Pride flag was first officially raised on Parliament Hill for Pride Month in 2016 by Justin Trudeau’s administration. It has since evolved. In 2017, Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs first introduced the white, pink, teal, black, and brown stripes seen above to recognize trans and queer people of colour.
That’s right. The rainbow flag wasn’t colour-inclusive enough. With this new flag, sexual proclivities diversity still gets six colours, “gender identity” gets three (don’t worry, the white represents “gender neutrality”, not Caucasian oppressors), and racial diversity two.
But wait! Have we included everyone? Does this give pansexuals their due? What about demiboys? Polyamorists? Abrosexuals? The two-spirited? These and dozens of other “sexual minorities” have their own flags too. (Seriously.) If only there was a flag to represent everyone regardless of their sexual penchants or self-conception.
Why fly flags?
The Canadian flag does not represent religious, ideological, sexual, or racial unity. Rather, it represents civic unity. Whatever our personal characteristics or beliefs, we share the same land and the same civil government. Each of us enjoys the constitutional guarantee of the equal protection of the law. And no matter where we come from, by making Canada our home we also share in its history and institutions. If flags flown by governments represent any kind of pride, surely this is it. Pride of place, basic civic equality, and belonging in a peacefully shared home. And this is to say nothing of the specific history and symbolism in the Canadian flag, Ontario flag, or even the Norwich flag.
Why would a government, then, fly the Pride flag? Progressives contend that the flag signals to “sexual minorities” that they are included. But included how? Remember that we are talking about governments here. Why must governments raise a flag to communicate the “inclusion” of persons identified by some aspect of their sexuality? Are gay men, for example, excluded from citizenship? Are they not part of the nation or province or town? If gay men were excluded from citizenship or the equal protection of the laws, how would flying a rainbow flag remedy that problem?
CBC quotes Alex Wilson – who teaches “Queering Our Classrooms and Communities” at the University of Saskatchewan – as saying that raising the Pride flag recognizes sexual minorities’ “right to exist.” But why should anyone’s “right to exist” be in doubt? Well, progressives might say, because sexual minorities have been ill-treated and their identities (“gay,” “trans,” etc.) condemned. Let’s assume that’s true. Isn’t it also true of other groups? Churches are frequently vandalized and antisemitic aggression is on the rise. Quebec has even prohibited public servants and users of government servers from wearing religious symbols. Should civil government now raise crosses and fly the star of David to make Christians and Jews feel more included, to confirm their right to exist?
An argument could be made for doing so, I suppose. But here is the curious thing. The aggressive push to fly the Pride flag in every town and at every school has arrived well after our laws have been changed to affirm same-sex marriage, gender self-identification, and “alternative families,” well after public school curricula and libraries have been revised to celebrate every sexual orientation, and well after so-called gender affirming medicine was publicly funded (and body-affirming counselling shut down).
Flying the Pride flag is not an exercise in governments standing up for unpopular minorities, but a way for governments to signal their ideological commitments and tell you what yours should be. The Progress Pride flag proclaims a vision of human autonomy that not only refuses to recognize any normative limits (beyond “consent”) on what people do with or to their bodies, but that calls for the celebration of immoral and harmful behaviours.
Professor Wilson (the teacher of “Queering our Classrooms and Communities” mentioned above) is surprised to see this “new” debate emerging regarding Pride flags and “LGBTQ visibility” when “it seems like something more likely to have been a controversial topic 35 years ago.” This particular form of gaslighting and propaganda – “We’re shocked that anyone alive today finds Pride controversial! Shocked!!” – has been common progressive fare for years.
It is designed to make those who oppose the progressive sexual agenda feel isolated, powerless, and demoralized. Certainly, we should not be naïve regarding how most Canadians think about sexuality and gender. At the same time, however, we should not assume everyone is OK with indoctrinating children in gender theory, mutilating gender-confused children’s bodies, or placing gender-bending child porn in school libraries.
Christians are often condemned for stoking “culture wars” for opposing the progressive sexual agenda. Meanwhile, CBC warns that Pride flags are being “targeted once again” (i.e. not flown absolutely everywhere), even while such sneaky concepts as “parental rights” are being “weaponized to usher in laws [in the U.S.] that target trans youth and their families” and that “target gender-affirming care” (i.e. protect children from mutilation).
The point is not that Christian opposition to progressive activism should never be criticized. But as the state broadcaster and other activists ramp up the rhetoric, we should not be cowed into silence. Let us faithfully continue our advocacy for a healthy and holistic anthropology that celebrates God’s good design of human bodies as male and female.