Check out this great article about the Day of Pink at Fleming College!
PARN speakers addresses Fleming College students about bullying, gender bias issues
by Kennedy Gordon
featured in Examiner Peterborough
Stereotypes are hard to get past, says a local same-sex rights activist. Even for him.
Peter Williams works with PARN, the Peterborough AIDS Resource Network. On Monday, he was at Fleming College speaking to more than 200 students about bullying and gender bias, part of the college’s Day of Pink programming.
And he’s guilty of stereotyping, he told the crowd, describing what it was like to watch the recent Academy Awards with several heterosexual friends. A red-carpet commentator started making flamboyant remarks about women’s clothing, and Williams felt the annoyance he remembered from his youth when other gay men “played up the gay,” he said.
“Anybody watch the Academy Awards here?” he asked the crowd.
“No? Not many gay people here then,” he said to a round of laughter. “See, that’s a stereotype.”
Unavoidable, he added.
“I’m a 50-year-old gay man in a committed relationship and I still feel homophobia,” he told the students.
“I don’t even know if (the TV host) was gay. I looked at the wrapping and made an assumption.”
His point? Everyone makes stereotypes. Everyone applies them to the people around them. We all judge.
“It’s what you do with that attitude that makes the difference,” Williams said.
Day of Pink was held at the college Monday, with faculty, staff and students urged to wear pink to draw attention to bullying and harassment. Pink was spotted throughout the Sutherland campus on Brealey Drive, with students wearing pink T-shirts, sweaters, even neckties.
Information tables were set up with T-shirts, pins and buttons available for sale. Proceeds go to Jer’s Vision Foundation/Day of Pink.
Williams will reprise his presentation next Monday at the college.
His message was simple: If you’re going to judge, don’t act on it. People are different, and that’s something the world has to learn to accept.
As an example, he mentioned South African Olympic athlete Caster Semenya, whose gender has been in question since it was determined she allegedly had both male and female qualities.
“That’s called intersexed,” Williams said of that sort of condition. “It’s more common than you think. How many of you know someone with red hair? The frequency of red hair is one in 250, and that’s the same for the intersexed.”
In other words, he said, people of differing genders and sexualities are far more common than most people think.
“It’s up to everyone to make a change in how we look at all of this,” he said.