An open letter to Evan Wiens

Dear Evan,

In the short time that I have known you through the media I have become a big fan of yours. I have seen the way that you have been standing up in your community, trying to put together a gay-straight alliance at your school, and I support you 100 per cent. Then, sadly, I see how too many in your community appear to be rallying against you, and while I feel nothing but disgust at what I see as ridiculous treatment towards you on their part, I also feel inspired by how you seem to be handling all of this.

I know it can’t be easy. Well, okay, I don’t know what it’s like. I have never been in your position. But I do remember high school, and how difficult it could be for a kid, especially if you were considered “different” in any way. And, in a small town, being the only gay student who is officially out in your school, well, I’m sure it’s not easy.

I’ve been reading about you and saw an interview with you. I’ve been impressed by your professionalism, your courage, your desire, your determination, and your intelligence. You seem like a good guy. I felt badly when, during a CBC interview, students walking past actually said homophobic things to you while you were on camera. I couldn’t believe it. I saw just a touch of what you have to face and I feel horrible that this is the case. It really is sad.

I don’t understand why there has been such opposition to Manitoba’s Bill 18, which is meant to create a safe school environment for all students regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. This seems like a positive, forward-thinking bill designed to fight bullying. For some reason, as you know, the religious community in particular has taken exception to this bill and the idea that students like you should be able to freely run a gay-straight alliance in any school in Manitoba. I mean, pastor Ray Duerksen from your community said that Bill 18 is “the biggest challenge the Canadian church has ever faced [ . . . ] It’s going to be the beginning of an incremental attempt to destroy the Christian church. That’s what’s taking place. That’s the agenda behind the scene.”

I hope you know that it is very hard for many of your allies to take this statement seriously. If this bill is the worst thing that has ever happened to the church in Canada, then the church is a pretty fragile entity if you ask me. The reality is that it isn’t the worst thing that has happened. The church will go on, and probably still remain homophobic for many years to come, despite the best efforts of rational people like you.

I wish you the best of luck in your fight to get your gay-straight alliance off the ground in your school despite the irrational opposition and the seeming desire to keep other kids who are LGBT in the closet, and I’m sure you know as well as I that there are definitely other teens in your community who are LGBT. You really are paving the way for a better future for these kids, and for kids down the line. And, the truth is, even if you threw in the towel now and said enough is enough, you have done more than you can possibly imagine, not just for you and others in your community, but for so many who have heard your story and been inspired and moved. You have every reason to feel proud! You are a good person; I support you and consider myself an ally.