NEWS: Unleash the Pink

Check out this article in The Fulcrum:

UNLEASH THE PINK

KYLE DARBYSON | FULCRUM STAFF

April 10 marks this year’s International Day of Pink, an event that encourages people all over the world to wear the colour pink and help spread the message of tolerance, diversity, and equality.

Jer’s Vision, a Canadian youth diversity initiative and non-profit organization, is helping to mobilize an army of supporters for this event, providing the public with free supplies such as T-shirts and posters in the hopes of uniting the country against bullying and homophobia.

This day of colour-coded solidarity is scheduled to culminate in the Day of Pink Gala at the Government of Canada Conference Centre in Ottawa. The Gala—which is free and begins at 6:15 p.m.—is set to feature a smorgasbord of influential Canadian speakers, including former governor general Michaëlle Jean, Q radio host Jian Ghomeshi, and Olympic gold-medal swimmer Mark Tewksbury.

“The theme for the Day of Pink is ‘Let’s talk about it,’” said Jeremy Dias, a University of Ottawa graduate and founder of Jer’s Vision. “If you look at the speakers [for the gala], these are people who have really advocated for LGBTQ rights nationally and internationally.”

The Day of Pink was first brought to life in 2007 when a group of high school students from Nova Scotia sought to end the bullying of a gay student who was being physically abused for wearing pink to school. In retaliation to this harassment, the students decided to wear their own pink clothing to school and successfully encouraged many of their fellow classmates to follow suit.

This simple grassroots movement quickly turned into something much larger once Jer’s Vision entered the picture a short time later. This non-profit  organization was inspired by creator Jeremy Dias’s own dealings with homophobia and bullying during his school years. Jer’s Vision utilizes its resources to help make the Day of Pink an international event that is set to be celebrated by over 8.5 million Canadians this year alone.

Dias said that this event has become an important milestone for many LGBTQ youth in the country.

“The greatest moment for me has been [seeing] a number of students who feel comfortable coming out and feel comfortable being themselves,” he said. “For many students, the Day of Pink is the first time they go out with their partners, and I think that’s so cool.”

While the general attitude toward the LGBTQ community has evolved by leaps and bounds in the last decade, ignorance and hatred are by no means things of the past. It was only two years ago that Ottawa teen James Hubley took his life after enduring constant homophobic bullying by his peers.

U of O sociology major and Jer’s Vision volunteer Nick Wilson believes in the importance of national dialogue and drawing attention to these sorts of issues.

“I think that Day of Pink is important because it shows that even though Canada has had marriage equality since 2005, we still have problems with homophobia and transphobia,” said Wilson.

The Day of Pink doesn’t require financial donations; Dias and the people at Jer’s Vision only ask that you wear pink on April 10 and keep an open mind in regard to issues surrounding bullying and gay rights in the future.

“It’s really easy to make a difference,” said Dias, “and we sort of forget that sometimes.”