May, 2014 / Author:

210-may_june-46-hometown-prideGrindr is good for many things, one of which is pop-anthropology. And wouldn’t you know it, talking to strangers can be very insightful. One thing you learn quickly is that a lot of people are unapologetically racist, falsely believing that the logical extension of being born gay means that all their other sexual preferences are equally innate. But another observation that I always find striking when going on Grindr in Winnipeg are the somewhat bizarre demographics of the community. There seems to be a large number of 18 to 22-year-olds, and a smaller but significant number of older men. The 20s and early 30s are conspicuously missing.

There are many reasons that compel us to move, but there surely are equally great reasons to come home. 

When chatting about Winnipeg, people have been almost unanimous in their desire to leave. Granted, this has been a particularly harsh winter, one that could make even hardened Winnipeggers lose their composure. But listening to the complaints, I couldn’t help but be reminded of myself four years ago, before I moved to Vancouver for school. In many ways, this is the constant state of those who live in the shadow of national metropolitan centres. This always strikes me as a bit sad, because I truly love Winnipeg. I love the people, the diversity, the arts, the accessibility of our cottage country, the affordability and most of all, the community.

I understand the need to leave, the ever-present feeling that things are somehow happening everywhere else but here, an interest in starting a career in an industry that just isn’t here. There are also many reasons specific to the GLBT* experience. Many of us spent our youth coming to terms with our sexuality instead of exploring it. The process of coming out can be painful. We may face rejection from our friends and family. For these and many other reasons, it is reasonable to feel that it is easier to make a fresh start in a new city, rather than to stay home and confront the bigotry and discrimination within our own community.

There are many reasons that compel us to move, but there surely are equally great reasons to come home. And being back in Winnipeg for the Pride Festival is a perfect opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of the celebration. Experiencing Pride in one’s hometown seems to capture the essence of the occasion. Rather than being an anonymous individual in the celebratory crowd, you can participate as a brother, son, friend and community member that is there to represent the face of the GLBT* community.

Now, I know that taking my mom to watching a flotilla of naked men grinding up on each other will make me wince, but it’s easy to feel progressive in an adopted community of likeminded individuals. Politics is about sharing a space with a plurality of people that work to help one another expand the boundaries of acceptance. Happy hometown pride Winnipeg!

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Winnipeg Griindr Demongraphics

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– Mladen Kojic is a disillusioned political scientist who is switching to communications.

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