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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Harmless humor or tactless joke? Gay community reacts to councillor’s tweet

CALGARY – Councillor Brian Pincott was in Winnipeg for the opening of the Human Rights Museum when he snapped a photo of a candy shop.

He captioned the photo, “I think I may have found Winnipeg['s] famous Gay bar district.”

Pincott, now serving his third term on council, has been openly supportive of the gay community.

That’s why, for many, the joke came across as harmless.

“I laughed and thought, oh that’s funny Brian. I thought it was humorous,” says Jonathan Brower with Third Street Theatre, a queer production company in Calgary.

“I feel like he has an in, he knows the type of humour that goes on. Immediately as a gay man reading that tweet…There are way bigger fish to fry and I don’t think this is a fish to fry. This is an ally to help with diversity. I think it’s blown out of proportion.”

Others disagree, calling it a tactless joke that’s in bad taste.

“If you wanna joke about this in your living room that’s your right, but your twitter is your public life now if you’re a politician,” says James Demers, an activist in Calgary’s gay community.

“When you’re talking about marginalized communities from a position of power and authority it’s not a joke. These are his constituents. I understand sarcasm and humor… but this betrays an overall attitude of dismissal towards a community that is still fighting in huge ways to be recognized.”

Brian Pincott was in Haiti and not available for an interview Wednesday. He responded through twitter saying he has no regrets. He also forwarded more tweets of support.

Despite those endorsing comments, others suggest there’s a lack of context in limited characters.

“Is it homophobic? Is it a joke? Is it bad humour? Sarcasm? We’re not sure,” says Dr. Kristopher Wells with the Institute of Sexual Minority Studies and Services.
“If people don’t know background of the councillor or his views on LGBTQ, a vacuum is created – one the public will fill. That’s the problem with tweets with no context. They can perpetuate a harmful stereotype.”

Pincott has not removed the tweet.

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