Homophobic incident at Saskatoon rainbow crosswalk shows need for Pride, says transgender man

Logan Roberts was painting at the crosswalk with his wife when a man approached and started to yell 

'There is still a lot of violence, a lot of hate, a lot of misunderstanding,' says Logan Roberts

Logan Roberts was one of the people painting Pride crosswalks on Wednesday night. A man started causing a disturbance, yelling at the painters 'and saying how we were just stupid and destroying the country,' says Roberts. (Submitted by Logan Roberts)

Logan Roberts says a homophobic encounter at a Saskatoon rainbow crosswalk is just one example of why Pride Month is still needed.

Roberts was one of a number of volunteers painting a rainbow and trans Pride crosswalk in the city's Broadway neighbourhood on Wednesday night. 

People were driving by, honking, bringing the painters doughnuts and sharing their support, until a man drove by and began hurling racist slurs toward some of the painters, Roberts says. The man drove away, parked and walked back to the crosswalk. 

"Then he started grabbing the barricades that had been set up just for the safety while we were painting, and he started throwing them and yelling and saying how we were just stupid and destroying the country," said Roberts, a transgender bisexual man.

Police were called to the scene and the man has been charged with causing a disturbance. He is set to appear in court in November.

Roberts says while people outside the LGBTQ community may think incidents like this don't happen in 2021, it's unfortunately just another example of what LGBTQ people in Saskatchewan and across Canada still face.

"We're lucky that in Canada, gender identity and sexual orientation is protected in law … but despite that, there is still a lot of violence, a lot of hate, a lot of misunderstanding."

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Jack Saddleback also says this is just one of many incidents that happen every Pride Month. 

"It is, in my honest opinion, that people do not realize that homophobic and transphobic acts like this happen every single year here in Saskatoon," said Saddleback, the co-interim executive director of OutSaskatoon and board co-chair of the 2 Spirits in Motion Society.

"These mentalities, these behaviours still permeate their way in our own city and in our own backyards."

Pride Month is still needed to push back at those behaviours, says Saddleback, a Cree two-spirit transgender gay man.

Simple painted crosswalks like the one Roberts was helping create are an important part of visibility for the LGBTQ community, he said.

"We exist despite this larger system.… In many ways, the Canadian colonial system was set up to try and silence people who are two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.

"So the visibility is key to put a beacon out there that we exist, we will exist and we will always exist."

Jack Saddleback is the co-interim executive director of OutSaskatoon, and board co-chair of the 2 Spirits in Motion Society. He is a Cree two-spirit transgender gay man. (Facebook)

Incidents like this week's in Saskatoon can have a devastating effect on people in the LGBTQ community, said Saddleback.

His message to allies is a reminder that this is the reality LGBTQ people face every day, sometimes in subtle ways, and it's important to stand up against that homophobia. 

Saddleback said in light of the incident, he wants LGBTQ people to remember they are seen and loved.

He also reminds them that Pride started as a riot to push for the ability to live freely and they need to continue pushing toward that future.