Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Our Hands Are Not Entirely Clean Either

Last evening I wrote a very brief post with a link to pictures depicting the violence that ensued in St. Petersburg, Russia recently at a small gay pride gathering. I opined that one might want to carefully consider whether to spend one's tourist dollars in a country where hatred and prejudice against gays is widespread. Getting ready for bed, I said to my wife that I suppose if one were to use national behaviour as a travel criterion, while Canada would likely fair reasonably well in attitudes toward the gay community, it would not come out very well in its treatment of many other groups, Aboriginals coming immediately to mind.

Reading this story in today's Star, however, made me realize that we still have some distance to go in welcoming the gay community into full society:

Karen Dubinsky was shocked when she opened the mail and found a letter laced with homophobic slurs that said her family was not welcome in the city and they should leave “before it is too late.”

“I just had this chilling, weird sense of the contents,” said the Queen’s University professor who lives in the city with her partner Susan Belyea, 48, and their 13-year-old son.

The letter claimed to be authored by a “small but dedicated group of Kingston residents devoted to removing the scourge of homosexuality in our city.”

While I suspect the claim that the hate mail was authored by a dedicated group of Kingston residents is more the product of the author's diseased imagination, it is nonetheless shocking that such retrograde and twisted perspectives continue today.

The letter's ominous tone continues:

“We will watch and wait, and then strike, at home and office, as need arises,” the letter read.

While the matter is now in the hands of the Kingston police, friends, family and community are rallying:

Dubinsky said her family and friends have taken to sitting on the front porch to “be visible.”

She added that her family is grateful for the community response, which has included flowers delivered to her doorstep, phone calls and support rallies.
“That helps us meet this kind of hatefulness,” she said. “It makes it easy to find courage.”

I suspect that such collective action and support are indeed the most effective responses to such unhinged mentalities.


  1. I don't believe it is a generalized threat targeting all gay or lesbian couples in Kingston, only this particular couple has communicated receiving a threat to police. It is likely related to Karen Dubinsky's work as history professor at Queen's University, possibly connected to her work involving international adoption agencies and third world countries. Someone seeks to threaten her enough to cease her advocacy and /or leave Queen's University. Possibly a crazed disgruntled student or even a faculty member - Valery Fabrikant hated his fellow faculty members enough to go gunning for them.

    What is disturbing is that this nutcase has attracted a certain following among the rabid Conservative fan base in Yahoo media discussions, with proclaimed sympathies if not for the violent threat then certainly for the motivation underlying it..

    1. You may well be correct here, Rene. I guess ultimately what is most important is that society condemn such behaviour, no matter the motivation, in the strongest possible terms.

      By the way, why do I not find it surprising that the Harper Conservative fan base is reacting in the manner you describe?

  2. I think Renee's comment about rightwing support for this is more troubling than the story itself. It's easy to dismiss the hate letter as the doing of a solitary crackpot. We'll always have cranks and crackpots but when they metastasize into some sort of community we face a far greater menace.

    1. That is so true Mound, although I can't help but think that it is the usual suspects who are the community here. I will have to take a look at the Yahoo discussion boards Rene made reference to to explore this further.

  3. It's always "the others" who are the source of problems, Lorne. We're not very good at seeing our faults.

    1. Introspection can be very painful at times, Owen.