The month of June is recognized and celebrated around the world and right here in Penticton as Pride Month. It’s a time when we reflect on the struggles and the contributions of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. The Penticton RCMP reached out to their officers to help celebrate and share their knowledge.
Const. Dayne Lyons, media relations officer for the Penticton RCMP is working his first summer in the Okanagan having come from working four years on Vancouver Island.
“Wish me luck!” he said about his new posting in sunny Penticton.
He wanted to share a message of what Pride means to him.
“The freedom to be your true and authentic self is how I would define Pride. I feel a sense of Pride by not having to hide or change my personality or who I am just to fit in,” said Lyons.
Being a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community helps him bring empathy to the job.
“In my personal life, I have experienced bullying first-hand because of who I am. By enduring – and persevering through this experience, I am able to bring a new level of compassion and empathy into my work life and to the people, I serve each day,” Lyons said.
Lyons has some advice for anyone who is thinking about coming out or who has faced discrimination as a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
“You can’t always pick the family or life you are born into, but you certainly can create one that you feel most happy in. Focus on yourself and work to surround yourself with people who love and support you.
There’s also an important message he would like to share.
“If even one young boy or young girl thinks to himself or herself that they could never be a police officer because they are gay, lesbian, or transgender; my hope is that by seeing articles like this with gay officers, they know that they can be and do anything they set their sights on.”
Cpl. Heather Bradshaw, watch commander currently posted to the Penticton detachment has 16 years service as a proud gay member.
“Pride to me is a feeling that I can be open about who I am and not having to hide who I am. Having first hand experience dealing with challenges because of my sexual orientation I can be better trusted to know how to handle some of these situations and can offer my experiences and advice to others who may be going through similar challenges,” she said.
Bradshaw gives her advice to anyone who is facing discrimination as a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
“It is not always easy but try to remain strong and know you are not alone. Be true to yourself. Reach out to the community there are a lot of us.”
Bradshaw said the RCMP has been a supportive organization as have her peers.
“Not to say there hasn’t been any challenges along the way, but as time has gone by, understanding and acceptance has grown tremendously. I am a proud Mountie and a proud gay woman.”
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