It’s surely a message that deserves our support.
You’ll see our story (link below), featuring Qualicum Beach Coun. Robert Filmer.
Filmer, 22, is the first openly gay councillor in the town and wants young people in the community to know they have someone to turn to.
Imagine this story even as recently as a generation ago. It may not have been told.
Now, it’s no secret Qualicum Beach’s demographic skews older than most.
And Filmer admits it wasn’t easy growing up in a small, ‘old-fashioned’ town as a gay person.
But the fact we’ve reached the point where Filmer is sharing his message of increased inclusiveness has to be seen as a positive.
“I know people that have come out in the community say 20 or 25 years ago and they moved out of town,” he said.
“They didn’t finish high school, they didn’t finish school and they moved across the country and they won’t move back and it’s just because of that stigma that is still there and those memories. That’s what I want to try and get rid of.”
He’s using his position to do just that.
Imagine feeling it necessary to leave your high school and move across the country because of your sexuality?
“When they have someone that sits in their elected office and says, ‘this is me, this is who I am and it’s OK’, that’s the message that I want,” said Filmer.
“This is me, this is who I am and it’s OK.”
Every young person should grow up believing that.
As Filmer points out, it hasn’t been easy.
He pointed to the installation of a rainbow crosswalk in front of Kwalikum Secondary School in 2019 as an example that work still needs to be done. Like other similar crosswalks across B.C., it was vandalized. Filmer also received negative feedback.
“The amount of emails and phone calls I got that were against it – it did come to me as a shock because I didn’t think we still had that in Qualicum Beach.”
So he’s committed to continue to lead the way to change.
Filmer wanted to start making more moves within council to acknowledge and support the local LGBTQ2S+ community. He said a formal acknowledgement of Pride Month would be a good step. A week later, the town raised a Pride Flag for the first time.
He said he hopes him talking about being gay will help someone in the community feel less alone.
We’re willing to bet it already has.
Change can require courage and leadership.
Filmer has shown both.