May 17th was International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. I was photographing a pride event when an older man approached me. He was wearing a rainbow hoodie and had been lingering on the outskirts of the event. He told me he was 62 years old, and only recently came out of the closet openly. He had been living in a smaller community in the Fraser Valley, and had been afraid to be open and participate in the LGBTQ community there. He was afraid to start any clubs or events for fear of what other members of the community might do. He attended his first pride parade last summer, and moved to Metro Vancouver. He has been open since. This story was both sweet and sad. On the one hand I was happy for him to finally be apart of a community that accepts him and where he can be himself, and be surrounded by like-minded people. But on the other, it was a reminder of the homophobia and bigotry that still permeates our society. I experienced a similar feeling when Donald Trump was elected. LGBTQ rights hits very close to home for me as many of my good friends and family are apart of it, and I think it's my job to be an ally to them and support them whenever I can.
But really, can you imagine not being comfortable being yourself, or being afraid to be yourself in your community for 62 years?