This past weekend, my partner and I drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba to take in the festivities of Pride. I’m currently sitting in our suite, looking out the window at a fast flowing river, trees in full leaf, a cobblestone sidewalk with a few pedestrians meandering about. The big party is over here. In just a week, the party will get started in Regina. I’m looking forward to it.
Yesterday while we were lining up in front of the Manitoba Legislature, I couldn’t help but think about how things have changed since the first parade I took part in. Five hundred or so people from all over Saskatchewan lining up in front of the union headquarters, pouring out onto Albert Street experiencing the rush, fear, exhilaration of being unabashedly visible, unabashedly present and unashamedly existing as we were created to exist.
Forward to the parade last year, where I didn’t actually march but got to stand on the sidelines and watch as 3000 people walked past in the sun, poured into Wascana park where food, a bouncy castle for the kids, beer gardens with entertainment, and a market waited for us.
Forward again to Calgary Pride, where in a whirlwind trip last year I got off a plane, was driven to the staging grounds and was walking on the streets of downtown Calgary (which is a great way to see the city, just saying), past cheering crowds holding flags, balloons, smiling, turning at the intersection that put us into the park where a wall of 10 foot tall signs reminded me and everyone else in the parade what one particular interpretation of scripture says about our choices.
Yesterday I was thinking about those signs before we got under way, and considered how those people holding those signs were hiding behind them while for decades, we have walked with our signs over our heads.
Which got me to thinking about the first parade I saw, at 17, walking down Albert Street Regina without a permit, with some faces masked because of potential lashing out from employers, friends, family. In 1989 it still wasn’t 100% safe. Still today, many members of our community fear from within as well as from without.
And that old refrain still rings “Why can’t we have a straight Pride?” Less a comment from people who are sincere about wanting to celebrate, more a comment from people who realize their privilege is in jeopardy and need to bite back in fear, bite back to keep what they see as being something that they need to protect from greedy hands.
Part of my trip was a pilgrimage to St. Boniface Cathedral, a building that, when burned to the ground sprang up from the ashes using the shell of the old cathedral as part of a new vibrant building and community. I feel that many of us in the Gender and Sexually Diverse community see the changes that are happening from within as a threat to the privilege we think we’ve earned, rather than look at the potential beauty and benefits that change might bring. It’s a micro-change that has to macro into the greater communities we live in.
If you don’t consider yourself part of the GSD communities, and you wonder why we’re doing what we do, it’s because you have the luxury of being able to wonder.