Here is the speech I gave today for the DOP:
Today, April 13th, is the International Day of Pink. It's a day to stand up for diversity and fight discrimination, bullying and homophobia.
I'd like to share a personal story with you on why I am so passionate about this issue.
My brother came out when he was about 16 years old. We were living in Sault Ste. Marie at the time and there wasn't much support for the LGBTQ community.
But my brother, despite concern from my family, didn't hide his sexuality. As a result, however, he was bullied, discriminated against and physically assaulted. When he went to the school and asked that they do something about it, they denied such bullying was going on. When he asked to put up a anti-homophobia poster, they rejected him.
So what did he do? He took the issue to the human rights tribunal based on the fact that no student, no child, no youth should have to be bullied based.
He won his case against the school with a small financial settlement. When I heard the news, I sort of jokingly said "So when are we going to use the money for a vacation?"
But instead of just taking the financial settlement and putting it towards his student debt, he took the money and started a scholarship. A scholarship for youth who fight discrimination in their communities.
That was in 2005. Since then, my brother's charity Jer's Vision has expanded to an organization which travels all across the world to engage youth on discrimination, homophobia and some of the solutions.
I went to one of his conferences with youth a few years ago. Some of the stories of bullying brought me to tears. However, I was shocked and happy to see these youth were engaged and prepared to make a difference
So for me, the day of pink is about celebrating diversity, and knowing that no person should ever have to be discriminated against.
– Joshua Dias