Pride stands for peace, not totalitarianism

Recognizing that the trauma overcome by the LGBTQ+ community should never be dismissed

Shelby Harper advocates for remembering the pride flag in its historical and moral context, the identifying symbol for the LGBTQ+ community.
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At a conference organized by Rebel Media on Nov. 10, John Carpay, a Canadian lawyer and member of Alberta’s United Conservative Party, referred to pride flags and those bearing Nazi and communist symbols in the same sentence. 

He said “whether it’s the swastika for Nazi Germany or whether it’s a rainbow flag, the underlying thing is a hostility towards individual freedoms.”

Carpay’s argument relating the pride flag to totalitarianism is morally and logically flawed. Although he publicly apologized for “unintentionally” drawing a comparison between swastikas and rainbow flags, his insensitive comments highlight the bigotry within some portions of Alberta’s Conservative party.

LGBTQ+ individuals have fought long and hard for the right to live as members of society. The pride flag represents peace and the triumph of this fight, not dictatorship and centralized thinking. 

Totalitarianism is a highly centralized and all-encompassing system of government that demands service to the state. Pride flags, by contrast, are a symbol of choice and peace—the complete opposite.

By comparing the pride flag to a swastika, Carpay fails to recognize the trauma and violence the LGBTQ+ community has faced. He’s suggesting their symbol of positivity has the potential to be dangerous and controlling. 

His statement doesn’t only insult marginalized peoples; it’s also historically inaccurate. It presents a troubling message to Alberta lawmakers:  discriminatory attitudes towards LGBTQ+ communities are permissible in the right framing.  

Carpay, as a lawyer, is supposed to protect the law, as well as the people bound to it. He claims to advocate for freedom of speech, but this freedom is only accessible to certain classes of people, excluding those who don’t fit his political values. 

But the irony of claiming to advocate for freedom while making statements that silence certain minority groups is illogical. 

Carpay sees the pride flag as a threat to free speech, but his behaviour towards the protection of LGBTQ+ people is a threat towards the Canadian constitution.

It’s disturbing that Carpay allows discriminatory language to take precedent over the well-being of other Canadians.

His harmful rhetoric isn’t just limited to just flags and symbols. 

According to The Canadian Press, he’s supported changing a law in Alberta protecting gay-straight alliances within local schools. If a student chooses to join an LGBTQ+ friendly club—which promotes their safety and security—Carpay believes schools should be legally bound to inform their parents. 

Student clubs, like gay-straight alliances, fundamentally encourage inclusion and condemn bullying within a school’s community. By allowing parents to be notified 

if their child joins such clubs, schools may expose a student seeking help and support from their peers.

Carpay’s reasoning behind the requirement to inform parents of student membership stems from his comment that these LGBTQ+ friendly clubs are “ideological sexual clubs.” But if his legal challenges were to be considered, it may result in the mental health of these student communities to be at risk.

Carpay’s words and actions should be seen as a threat to all Canadians, not only those who identify within the LGBTQ+ community. The pride flag has been a beacon of hope for LGBTQ+ communities for decades. It’s inspired equality and freedom, and represented progressive change.

When voters allow right-wing extremists like Carpay to come into power, they’re allowing him to adversely affect the lives of vulnerable groups in our country. 

As people like Carpay represent a dangerous threat to public thought, he and similar others denounce anything that threatens their narrow-minded way of thinking.

These issues affect everyone, especially on a campus like Queens, where issues of freedom of speech and freedom of expression are widely debated. 

Although there might be disagreements about how to express our individual freedoms, it’s important for students to reach a consensus of respect for one another and for marginalized individuals. 

Recognizing the hardship marginalized groups endured now and in the past and stressing the importance of moving forward allows discrimantory rhetoric like Carpay’s to be cast aside and overcome.  

Shelby is a second year English major. 

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