Support for #LGBTQ and #DigitalIdentity

Yesterday I decided to do an in depth Google search on my name.  As a pre-service teacher it is important to make sure to keep up a positive and appropriate digital identity. Through my sleuthing of my own digital identity I experienced the nostalgia of my hockey playing days, and discovering the my old school MySpace account.  However, this wasn’t the only thing that I had come across.  I was referenced in two articles for a tweet that was posted in April of 2014.

Some background, back in 2014 there was a issue of Peter LaBarbera, an anti-gay and pro-life supporter, coming to Regina to promote their anti-LGBTQ, and pro-life agenda.  Needless to say, they were not greeted with loving support from the University of Regina, faculty and students.  LaBarbera and his partner in crime (literally speaking), Bill Whatcott, were arrested on campus for trespassing.  Many students were pleased to have these men removed off campus for spreading an agenda that the many in the university community did not agree with.  I was one of them who tweeted in support of the Regina Police and Campus Security escorting these two off campus.

However, not everyone has the same ideals as the “liberal” community, as I am often labeled.  Many pro-life, anti-gay supporters backlashed and said that their arrest was hindering on their right free speech.  Some even extended their labels to the supporters of gay rights, as homofascists.  I was surprised to be one of the ones labelled in a couple articles as my innocent tweet began to make international attention.

Barbwire with Matt Barber, an American news and opinion blog/newsfeed that focuses on a biblical worldview. Barbwire decided to give me a shoutout.  They referred to me and many others as a homofascist. A label that is I felt was a wee-bit exaggerated.  As well as a gay activist on another article on the Israel, Islam & End Times, newsfeed.  However, in my eyes being labelled a gay activist is a much more appropriate than a “homofascist”.

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As you can see from my tweet above I don’t feel as I didn’t deserve the attention I did from the situation as it was grouped in with the following tweets.  At first I was a bit nervous of having my name labelled with these articles and being grouped with the following tweets, as they are quite aggressive.  I think if we were to play “which of these things is not like the other” I hope mine would pop out.

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The lessons I have learned through being a social justice educator, and a “homofacist”/gay-activist with regards to my digital identity.

  1. Anyone can pick up your tweets and refer to them without your permission.
  2. Expect backlash when supporting gay-rights, and anti-oppression.
  3. The amount of ignorance and inequality when it comes to privilege, and admitting the privilege that you have.  As a society it is improving but we still have a way to go.
  4. Stand-up for what you believe in.

Overall, the posts humoured me.  I did not find them overly intimidating.  Being a supporter of human rights is what I feel is appropriate and important as an future educator.  Our students need to feel as they belong.  Some of our LGBTQ students often already feel ostracized in our schools, and community, I believe it is important to stand with them.  I will continue to support all people and students regardless of who or what we identify as because we are people.



Comments (0)

  1. Reply

    Wow, Curtis. What a great story. I really enjoyed how you clearly depicted how far one little Tweet can go and how big of an impact our words have online. I also very strongly agree that everyone deserves to feel comfortable in school, communities, etc and that it sometimes overlooked. But this blog makes the line between the freedom of speech and being mindful of what we put out into the internet VERY transparent. Thank-you for sharing this story.

  2. Reply

    This is an important piece you’ve written here Curtis. Homofacist is not a term I had heard until reading this. It’s always interesting (and often disheartening) to see the form rhetoric takes in these issues. I too remember Peter LaBarbera’s visits to the university. I’m Christian myself, but his presence there always gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach, just because I know his approach is so damaging and does nothing to build bridges or engage people in conversations about faith. I don’t agree with Peter’s stance on LBGTQ rights, and even more than that I don’t agree with his approach, or the attitude from which he shares his ideas. And that’s why your article is so important because in it, you give a very good example of what it means to represent your view well.

    You say that if we were to play “which one is not like the other” you hope that your tweet would pop out. Your tweet very clearly doesn’t belong with others. Unlike yours, the other tweets range from scathing to threatening. Do you think it is possible to be on the right side of an issue but in the wrong way? Because I do, and I believe that ultimately the approach and attitude that your views are represented through will always speak louder than the views themselves. I don’t think the authors of those other tweets did much credit to their views, or at least, not any more than Peter LaBarbera did to his. Your tweet was very matter-of-fact and objective while also unambiguous about where you yourself stand on the issue. You advocated and were professional about it. Pretty good for 140 characters.

    People who represent their views poorly like Peter, waste no time in playing the freedom of speech card (which, by the way, I find completely disrespectful to people across the world who genuinely don’t have freedom of speech). And it’s unfortunate that he walks away from all of his demonstrations under the delusion that he’s a persecuted martyr. But if Peter ever changes his tune, it won’t be because he lost an argument or because someone challenged him to a knife fight on twitter. It’ll probably be because of that disarming combination of advocacy and professionalism, through which he is invited into an equal-exchange conversation, where he is both listened to and challenged. Sometimes the best way to help people out of bigotry is to model what it is to not be a bigot. Agree? Disagree? Am I being too naive?

    • Reply

      Thanks Cam! I agree with what you have here. I believe it is important to continue to challenge people with these views. If someone is going to be unprofessional with what they are doing to challenge someone’s discriminatory beliefs, it also looks poorly on the person that is posting it. I also never thought of the “freedom of speech” card as discriminatory, but it does make sense. We are lucky to have free speech as you said there are many others that don’t have it.

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