Making no assumptions

Sometimes friendships can bloom in the most unusual places.

Sometimes friendships can bloom in the most unusual places.

Sometimes people can look beyond their own biases and see a person, rather than a prejudice.

Sometimes people can change and do things you never expected from them.

And so it was a few weeks ago, as I sat outside the Pink Cherry speaking with Ryan Clayton, a gay man and anti-homophobia activist, and an educator. Clayton has started a Purple Letter campaign, encouraging gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and those who care about them, to write letters to the government calling on them to develop a province-wide anti-homophobia policy.

As we sat, I noticed our MP, Colin Mayes and his wife Jacquie, walking hand-in-hand on Hudson Avenue towards us.

What I didn’t expect was for them to stop.

After all, my last contact with Mayes about gay rights was while he was mayor. Citing his Christian religious beliefs, Mayes refused to proclaim Gay Pride Week, and instead, developed a new city policy where council refused to sign all requests for proclamations. This got around potential litigation or human-rights complaints for discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation.

But stop they did. Not only that, they joined us.

When I questioned Mayes and Clayton about this, they both spoke of how they met — the right-wing Conservative parliamentarian and the young, outspoken homosexual — both filled with stereotypes about the other. And yet, during the course of the conversation, they managed to connect. Mayes said the pair began to chat, and he found himself sharing some things about his personal life and his family. Suddenly the gulf between the two men didn’t seem as wide.

Later on, after a particularly gruelling all-candidates meeting in Vernon, Mayes was feeling pretty beat up.

“Ryan came up and he told me I didn’t deserve that kind of treatment,” said Mayes. Soon after, when Mayes won the election, he got up at 5 a.m. to start reading his emails.

“Ryan’s was the very first email I got congratulating me. That has always stuck with me.”

Despite his message of tolerance and respect for diversity, Ryan admits to harbouring prejudice about Mayes’ conservative views.

“I was just as guilty of jumping to conclusions about people. I make no assumptions about anyone now,” he told me.

What Mayes’ own purple letter might have said is between him and the government. The MP didn’t volunteer to share, and I didn’t ask. But, in many ways, Mayes didn’t have to. His being there said enough.

The Purple Letter Campaign is still going on until  Oct. 20. A drop-box for local letters remains at the Pink Cherry, or they can be mailed to #376-3495 Cambie St., Vancouver, B.C., V5Z 4R3.



Just Posted

Salmon Arm Fall Fair to feature Lego building competition

The competition will be revised from last year but will include team-build challenge

Arizona skater visits home of hockey to try out for Sicamous Eagles

High-calibre camp attendees make for difficult roster selection

In photos: Residents learn to paint the scenes of Salmon Arm

The free workshop was held at Piccadilly Mall

Year-round training envisioned for Salmon Arm’s Rapattack base

Mayor hopes council’s support of Rapattack will pay off in longevity for base

Letter: Better fix needed than what’s proposed for Balmoral Road/Highway 1 intersection

Province already behind on widening of Trans-Canada Highway

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

Man shot near Coalmont airlifted to hospital

A man was shot near Coalmont B.C. Saturday afternoon. The victim was… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

In photos: Salmon Arm’s downtown farmers market

Out of the many sights and sounds from Salmon Arm’s downtown farmers… Continue reading

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Renter of torched Okanagan home a British Army veteran, new Canadian

Owen Wilson was just beginning to settle into life in Canada when the blaze occurred

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

Most Read