by Jim Bertram
Last week’s paper included an article on the front page concerning the rink proposal put forward by the Southgate Church. Numerous points were made concerning opposition to the project. Some of those points had to do with location and other issues of a practical nature. However, one point was made in that article which requires particular attention. That point was that some members of the community would feel uncomfortable on church property “…because of its Wesleyan faith which considers homosexuality as contrary to the will of God.”
Notwithstanding the energy expended by the members of this church to provide a public good (the proposed rink), in spite of the numerous positive acts of participation locally in the past in a number of areas providing social goods to our community, our municipal government was asked to reject a significant and positive project offered by this church to ALL members of our community. In spite of the record of positive engagement with the North Grenville community by this church, we are to turn on them and spurn their project which offers good to all. All this because their church adheres to points of view on homosexuality which do not align comfortably with the views of others.
Holly Brown, founder of Rainbow Union, Dundas and Grenville (RUDG) recently co-ordinated the municipality’s first-ever Pride parade which I and many others attended on June 1. She is quoted in the newspaper ‘Inside Ottawa Valley.com’ as saying the rink would not be safe or inclusive for members of the LGBTQ2+ community if it’s located on the property of a Wesleyan Church. “I propose it is not only unethical, but perhaps even unlawful, to apply as a co-applicant with Southgate Church,” she said with reference to a proposed joint Trillium Grant application with the municipality.
So there you have it. The application of an active and positive member of the North Grenville community for a project which would provide much good for the community is attacked because the members of this church would somehow (???) provide an unsafe environment for LGBTQ people. Given my acquaintance with many people of the Southgate Community, I would qualify such comments as total politically motivated rubbish meant to slander a dynamic and positive portion of the North Grenville community. The same people who rightly shout to the rooftops when slanderous comments about LGBTQ people are made, seem to show no reticence themselves when attacking and misrepresenting those whose views apparently don’t conform with theirs in all aspects.
A few weeks ago, when I attended the Pride parade, I thought I was attending a positive addition to the local community’s list of social activities. I actually looked forward to it. I did not feel at that time that I was participating in part of a political project. Was I wrong? Does the Pride organisation stand for a hostile approach toward other groups of people in North Grenville who have their own points of view on a range of subjects? If so, I would propose that the opening up of our community to a wide range of points of view, discussion and mutual learning has been dealt a blow.
In the final analysis, I am not a member of the Southgate Community. Nor am I a member of the LGBTQ community. But if we have gotten to the point in North Grenville where we actually cannot deal with each other in a practical sense because we hold different private views on certain ideas, we should stop and think. If for practical reasons the proposed rink must not be approved (distance, financing), so be it. If, however, the project is to be stopped because of slanders and rubbish being directed toward the Southgate Community, then it is apparent that openness and interaction among individuals and groups with its attendant opportunities for learning and other social goods has indeed been harmed. I believe an apology to the Southgate Community is in order. And I believe the municipality must be very clear in enunciating the reasons for any decision which they make on the subject of the Southgate application.