OK You Belong Billboard

Bloganuary prompt: If you had a billboard, what would it say?

This prompt is easy – I already “have” one. Well, we contributed to it with a donation 🙂 .

Like in many parts of the world, the area where we live is plagued by a small but vocal and emboldened minority of people spewing hate, homophobia and conspiracy theories.

Our 2SLGBTQIA+ friends have especially been targets of these bigots. Because billboards are relatively cheap ways to advertise, they have become a convenient choice for “anti-choice” and other radical – christian hate groups.

Most of our community is disgusted by these statements. Unfortunately the company renting the billboards generally puts profits ahead of advertising rules or good taste.

As a CIS-genered male I am disgusted by the right-fringe billboards and their messaging but I have the privilege of looking away and not feeling personally attacked. Many of my friends and neighbors don’t have this luxury.

You Belong banner
Art by Sarah Jones

In the spring of 2023 community groups got together to fundraise and create the art for our own billboard.

Through the support of commuity groups and many donors the organizers were able to commission the art work and pay for the billboards to be installed.

The artist, Sarah Jones is an Ojibwe and Indigiqueer artist that was born on Syilx territory.
As you can see the design features bright rainbow colours and the words “You Belong” in English and the Syilx language.

On the okyoubelong.com website you can also find the way to pronounce the text in Syilx:

kʷu yʕayʕát kʷuʔ čn̓k̓ʷɬn̓xiʔm̓

Every time I drive by one of these billboards I feel happy and glad we supported this initiative.

I hope the billboards and the fact the community came together to make it possible is uplifting for those that feel like they are told that the Okanagan doesn’t want them.

We love you, we need you! YOU BELONG!

The You Belong organization sells wearable art now and you can even get this cute dog outfit.

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