Last month, Toronto held their Pride festival–the largest in the world. There were also Pride festivals in Amsterdam, London, New York, and Berlin that same weekend, along with hundreds of other cities throughout the world.
Now, it’s our turn.
Two weekends from now marks the 36th annual Vancouver Pride Parade. Pride festival events get underway this weekend and continue until the beginning of September, but the parade is arguably the most visible and widely attended event of all. It’s also a lot of fun!
The fact that all these festivals fall within roughly the same time span is not coincidence. Pride festivals throughout the world are planned to correspond with the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York in 1969. On June 27th of that year, police in Greenwich Village decided to raid a popular gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. This type of targeted raid was unfortunately common at the time. On this particular night, however, instead of sneaking away when the police arrived, the LGBT patrons decided to stand their ground and stand up against discrimination. This was, in effect, the beginning of the gay rights movement.
I’ve heard people say the Pride is outdated and no longer necessary. Too outlandish. Too in-your-face. I disagree.
I think Pride festivals bring out the best in people and encourage inclusiveness, encourage community building.
This year, to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, instead of marching with Pride, police in Fort Worth Texas raided another gay-friendly bar called the Rainbow Lounge. Using the age-old excuse of “sexually explicit movements” that posed a threat to their heterosexuality, police reported arrested patrons at random and left one man briefly hospitalized with a brain injury.
Pride is necessary until incidents like this no longer take place. Until members of the LGBT communities in Jamaica, Iran and South Africa can walk down the street without fear of death. Until no one here in North America feels like they need to hide their sexual orientation. That is not yet the case.
And so I urge you to check out the parade and show some Pride in the coming weeks!