Friday, June 30, 2023
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At Fanshawe, We See You

In celebration of Pride Month and in recognition of recent homophobic and transphobic events, Fanshawe’s Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion delivered the following remarks at the College’s flag raising ceremony on June 1, 2023:


My name is Joseph Pazzano (they/he) and I am your director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. I want to thank and acknowledge all of our guests here today, including members of our EDI and Anti-Oppression Task Force.


I’ve been reflecting on what this flag means. Harvey Milk was California’s first openly gay politician. In the 1970s, he asked his friend Gilbert Parker to create a symbol of the queer community and he created the original rainbow flag. In 1978, Harvey was assassinated, gunned down by a politician who feared progress.


Feared progress.


It’s Pride month. And Pride is as much about resilience as it is about protest. As much about the past as it is about the progress we made and the progress still to come. As much about celebration as it is about speaking truth.


And the truth is there is nothing to fear in this flag, only beauty. Only resilience. Only power.


And the truth is that our community today, just as it was in 1978, is under threat. Today, we see transphobia and homophobia in every community, in every corner of this country, of this continent. It is neither an American problem, nor a Canadian problem. Not a local problem, nor a national problem. It is a human problem. For so many of us in our communities, this Pride we feel the sting of that oppression that much more.


But this flag is about our truth.


In books about us, we see representation, where we had been erased before.


In drag shows, we see expression and authenticity, where we had been silenced before.


In inclusive curriculum, we see truth where bigotry had lived before.


In gender affirming care, we see survival.


In our pronouns and our identities, all we see are our truths. 


In this flag, we see resilience. We see beauty. We see strength. We see unity. We see progress. Belonging is our community’s only agenda.


And so, I say to any member of Fanshawe’s 2SLGBTQIA+ community, but I say even more directly to our 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, whether you are out and proud, questioning or thinking of coming out, I know this journey is sometimes scary and confusing. But you are seen. We see you. You are in this flag. Your stories, your hopes, your dreams and all of the steps taken and yet to come on your beautiful journey are wound up in every fibre of your flag. Here at Fanshawe, we support you and we proudly fly this flag in celebration of you.