Discrimination is still very alive

The scars are invisible, but they’re as real as our winter rains and forever bubble below the surface

The Castle owners Art Luney (left) and his partner Mario Agnello (right) have both experienced their share of discrimination, but believe there are still places where members of the LGBTQ community can feel safe.

The scars are invisible, but they’re as real as our winter rains and forever bubble below the surface, like a cauldron of water on a gentle boil.

Only when you talk to members of the LGBTQ community do you see them. You see them in eyes that sometimes look distant and hollow. You see them in pained gestures.

These scars speak to discrimination and bigotry. To abuse, both physical and verbal. To taunts, harassment and hate.

“I’ve been called a dyke, I’ve been spat on, called a fag, had a cigarette butt put out on me,” says Addison, a 22-year-old student and bartender. “I know butch lesbians who have been assaulted by men, just because they’re butch lesbians. And I know if two gay guys go into a place like Darcy’s they’ll be abused. Verbally for sure. And there’s a different kind of discrimination against girls and guys. Girls get sexually assaulted, guys get beat up.”

Brian is married to a man, has worked in the hospitality industry for a considerable number of his 50 years of drawing oxygen, and he initially submits that he’s “no longer exposed” to the taunts and slurs of the homophobes because he isn’t out and about as much as, say, 10 years ago.

“Things have changed,” he says.

Then he pauses for thought. He recalls an incident while working an event at Royal Athletic Park.

“I have no reason to out myself,” he says, “but someone else outed me there one day. I was a little uncomfortable after that. And then I thought, ‘Why do any of you give a fuck who I sleep with?’ Why is it a subject? I’m here to open a bottle of beer, pour it into a glass and hand it to a customer. So who gives a fuck? So, yeah, I still experience it. We still deal with that fear and we can’t let our guard down. We have to hold people’s feet to the fire.”

Art Luney, owner of The Castle Video Bar and Nightclub, was a victim of a gay bashing in the early ’90s.

“I was with my friend Ryan, who is quite a slight fellow,” he recalls. “One of the guys grabbed Ryan and just threw him over a parked car. I held my own, but I was scared shitless. It was very violent.”

Luney, a lawyer, speaks passionately about the civil rights gains the LGBTQ community has realized, such as same-sex marriage.

“Most important is that no one should kid themselves, regardless of the full rights Canadians have achieved through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that there is a 100 per cent acceptance of queers,” he says, his voice taking on a cautionary and defiant tone. “Just putting something on paper doesn’t make it a reality. There are forces that would like to see our rights diluted. We shouldn’t forget that. Discrimination is still very alive in this country. The war is not over. Not by a long shot. I will not let my vigilance down.” M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre to host a trio of acts

Aaron Pritchett, Alex Cuba and Valdy will each play four shows

Pacific Opera takes music to the streets

Artists travel around Capital Region District this summer for live performences

SKAMpede goes live in July

Beloved annual event returns with changes, pre-registration online

Victoria Flamenco Festival goes virtual for 2020 event

The show will go online from July 23 to 26

Campbell River teen produces quarantine musical

Ryver Santos Cegnar performed for friends and family over Facebook

Nanaimo Art Gallery summer camp moves programming online due to COVID-19

Teenage artists have until the end of next week to apply to Dazzle Camouflage

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to central Vancouver Island

Only 40 tickets available for each Vancouver Island Symphony private backyard show

Courtenay theatre gets support for livestream ‘hybrid’ shows this year

Island Coastal Economic Trust funds help Sid Williams Theatre with infrastructure, training

Virtual film industry career fair offers chance to talk with the experts

Experts in 11 different departments, three film union representative will be in attendance

Victoria Classic Boat Festival cancelled due to safety concerns

Organizers say Inner Harbour doesn’t provide enough space for physical distancing

Infringing festival finds a way to dance during pandemic

Nanaimo’s Crimson Coast Dance Society holding drive-in, micro and physically distanced events

Coastal scenes at the forefront for July shows at Victoria galleries

From sculpture to landscape paintings, summer art is about nature

Most Read