OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Pride parades

Calgary Mayor Leads Pride Parade For First Time

September 7th, 2011

People parade through a field of hay.

Calgary may not have the reputation of being a particularly tolerant city, but that perception could change sooner than one might think. For one, Calgarians elected a surprisingly progressive mayor last year. Naheed Nenshi won by a comfortable margin thanks in large to an active youth vote, assembled into action via social media. And now, from this involved base of progressives, the city’s mayor has—for the first time ever—led the city’s annual Pride parade.

For some history, Calgary—the largest city in the Canadian prairies—hasn’t been particularly welcoming of Pride celebrations in the past. It famously rescinded a Gay Pride proclamation in the early 90s following angry public demonstrations. Even more recently, any public visibility by the city’s GLBT community is usually accompanied by protesters, an annual occurrence at the Pride parade, as well as events like the regional Outgames in 2007.

Needless to say, I think the growing visibility and comfort of the GLBT community is wonderful, and already a big change from my experience living in Calgary in the mid 2000s. So, thank you, Mayor Nenshi, for representing all Calgarians!

Ottawa School Board Criticized Over Pride Parade Plans

August 19th, 2011

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board will be marching in the Capital Pride Parade for the first time this weekend. It’s a great way to send a message to all the board’s GLBT students and staff that it takes their unique issues seriously, but not everyone is happy with the gesture.

Amidst a load of the typical, thinly-veiled homophobic arguments ostensibly concerned about “wasting tax-payer’s money” and “supporting lewd public acts,” board trustee, Donna Blackburn, spoke to the media in support of the Pride participation: “My number one priority is student success,” she said. “When kids feel safe and secure in their learning environment, they do better.”

“The cost is minuscule,” Donna continued. “Everyone has to remember I’m a taxpayer, too, as well as the supportive parents whose children are gay.”

Donna also took the time to point out something that would be obvious to anyone who has actually, you know, attended a Pride parade: “The vast majority of people who attend the parade are fully-dressed,” she said. “You don’t put photos of normally-dressed people on the front page of a newspaper.”

Now, I’ve only been to about seven Pride parades or so (and mostly here in Montréal), but I’m convinced that if everyone who insists the parades are lewd, full of nudity, and contain “simulated sex acts” were forced to watch one from start to finish, they’d be positively bored with the reality compared to what their imagination must’ve been anticipating. It’s fairly tame, and particularly so when compared to… say, Mardi Gras. (An event that I think I’ll start using to judge the entire straight community.)

So good on you, Ottawa-Carleson District School Board! Thanks for sending the message that you respect student safety more than the opinions of a handful of small-minded parents that like to belittle an already-harassed segment of your student population.

Another Russian Gay Pride March Ends In Violence

May 30th, 2011

Circle the date on the calendar: Annual Russian gay-bashing.

For the sixth consecutive year, Moscow has forbidden a peaceful gay rights demonstration from happening within the city, and for the sixth consecutive year, equal rights advocates have defied the ban—with violent consequences.

Sadly, this isn’t a surprise. Homophobia runs very deep in Russian culture, so the same story returns year after year. An otherwise peaceful demonstration is met by violent counter protesters from radical right-wing organisations, and the end result is that the peaceful demonstrators are arrested by the police.

Banning peaceful protests is never a good idea, so I’m grateful for the bravery and dedication these men and women show year after year.

It may seem like Moscow has a long way to go, but attitude only change with visibility. When I was a teen growing up in Edmonton in the 90s, I remember a news story about the city’s first gay Pride march. A small handful of protesters stood in front of city hall with handmade signs. About one in three had their heads covered by paper bags with holes cut out for eyes. They were afraid of being identified, afraid of losing their jobs or being outed to their families. This was in Canada, only about 15 years ago. Things have changed a lot since then, and it’s happening all over the world—just at different paces.

I’m looking forward to the year, guaranteed to come, when I’ll post about the first march in Moscow without arrests or violence.

Toronto Mayor Threatens To Pull Pride Funding

March 9th, 2011

Queers Against Llamas

Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, has announced that he will deny $100,000 in funding for this year’s Pride Week celebrations—unless the parade portion of the festival excludes a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from marching.

For some time now, Toronto Pride has been entangled in a ridiculous controversy that I don’t particularly care to understand. On one side, there appears to be people like Rob Ford, who feel privileged enough to decide which segments of the GLBT community can and cannot participate in their own parade; on the other side there’s QAIA, who is using an event intended to be a celebration of GLBT culture, struggles, and achievements as a venue for an unrelated political message.

Such drama. Such dumb, dumb drama. Is there a side that doesn’t deserve a slap?

Either way, now that I’ve officially touched this landmine, I believe I will start a new group: Queers Against Unrelated Issues And Douchey Mayors.

Moscow Fined For Banning Pride

October 22nd, 2010

Yuri Luzhkov melts by the gaze of a Pride flag.

The city of Moscow has been fined €29,510 by the European Court of Human Rights for banning equal rights demonstrations in the city.

For several consecutive years, former mayor Yuri Luzhkov had banned gay Pride marches, calling them “satanic.” (I must’ve missed the year that the parade featured a live goat sacrifice.) When organizers ignored the bans, police did nothing to protect marchers from violent protestors, often hauling off the marchers in handcuffs instead.

Like many other parts of the world, the Council of Europe guarantees the rights of citizens to gather for peaceful protests. In light of this, the court ruled that Moscow couldn’t simply ban gay Pride marches simply because they don’t like gays.

The decision, incidentally, came on the same day that Yuri Luzhkov was replaced as mayor. He was fired by President Dmitry Medvedev in September after 18 years as mayor.

Comeuppance! I always wanted to use that word.

Tories Snub Pride Parade Again

August 18th, 2010

Stephen Harper marches at a gay pride parade shirtless.

Last Sunday was Montréal’s 18th annual Pride parade, and it was fantastic! Organizations, businesses, churches, sports groups, hobby groups, and tons of other equal-rights supporters marched down a brand new parade route in view of over 100,000 spectators. The parade even included politicians from every party—except one.

As in previous years, politicians of all stripes were invited by Pride organizers to come and join in the celebrations, and—like the years before it—the Conservative invitees ignored it entirely. Their absence didn’t go unnoticed, either. Speaking to the media in French, author and television personality, Jasmin Roy, was particularly succinct: “I don’t think we could speak of this as indifference; it’s clear the Harper government doesn’t like gay people.”

Indeed, Stephen Harper’s Tories have fought against equal rights for gay people at every conceivable step, opposing everything from marriage equality (even after it had become law) and protection from hate crimes, to smaller offensive gestures like removing all references to homosexuality from their new immigrant guides.

Given their behavioural history, I never really expected to see Tory party representation in the parade. Actually, I would have been shocked to see it and probably would have joined in a chorus of boos—an appropriate gesture of no where near the level of disrespect and consequence that this government has already displayed toward us gays.

Still, this is a very public example of what our government doesn’t represent, and that’s all Canadians. Whether Tories like it or not, the government is here to represent everybody—not just those that voted for them. And while Harper’s Tories may have a profound lack of sensitivity and understanding toward gay people, we’re still a large and vibrant community whose contributions to the country should have been acknowledged with representation at our biggest and most important cultural event. Honte à vous, Monsieur ‘Arper!

Gay Pride Float Possibly Hit By Arsonist

July 7th, 2010

Bystander mistake a charred pride float as modern art.

The annual gay pride float was a little different this year at Anchorage, Alaska’s fourth of July parade after it burned down in what is being treated as possible arson.

Just a day before the Independence Day parade was set to begin, a suspect was seen fleeing from a residential driveway where the float was parked, as weeks of hard work burned to cinders. Neighbours fear that the fire, which also scortched a nearby garage and attic, could be a hate crime.

The float’s construction team had a great idea, though. Christening the charred float “Phoenix Rising,” they rebuilt it from its ashes and burned remnants using donations from the community. After just one day, the float was finished, entered into the parade as planned, and won the Grand Champion trophy.

What a great display of unity and community pride. It’s an inspirational demonstration of exactly why the gay community should be proud of its accomplishments, and why hateful people should feel ashamed.

Edmonton’s First Tory Pride Participant Mocks Event

June 24th, 2009

Actual photos from the parade

When Edmonton’s Pride Parade organisers invited Conservative MLA Doug Elniski to join in the festivities last week and be among the first-ever Tory participants, they probably hadn’t guessed he’d be Twittering and posting to his conservative blog at the same time. While waving to the crowd alongside three of his colleagues, Elniski proceeded to mock the event and its participants in real-time on his public Twitter account. Class act, that Doug!

While the controversial tweets have since been scrubbed clean and his entire blog has been deleted altogether (it hasn’t escaped Google’s cached copy, mind you), here are just a few of his observations:

i am surrounded by bumping and grinding lesbians waiit 20 then send help

i am certian that one is real those however i doubt

Darkest humor was either “Dyke’s on Bikes” or “Queers for Beers” the latter was a particular irony as most of the people in the beer garden were drinking pink coolers

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO glad it did not rain, had it rained there would have been so much mascara, glitter and cake makeup on the roads we’d have needed one of those sweepers that follow the horses in the Capital Ex parade.

It was ‘just’ a parade, relax

It’s kind of a nice gesture simply joining the parade in the first place, but it’s disappointing for an invited participant to not acknowledge the meaning behind Pride parades. Contrary to what Doug wrote, it’s not “just a parade,” but also a celebration and protest in commemoration of a minority’s struggle. While I can’t blame Doug for revelling in the spectacle of some of the more flashy groups, I don’t think he cares much for the underlying purpose. An even more recent blog post of his directed toward young women has gotten some bad press, and reveals that he’s, sadly, pretty much just a creep:

Men are attracted to smiles, so smile and don’t give me that “treated equal” stuff, if you want equal it comes in little packages at Starbucks.

Yeah, who needs equality when we’ve got aspartame?

(Thanks to Tamara for sending this story along!)

Moscow Keeps Ban On Gay Rights Marches

December 12th, 2008

No irony here.

Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov has vowed to continue bans on gay rights marches, calling homosexuality “satanic,” and blaming the gay rights movement for the spread of AIDS:

We have banned, and will ban, the propaganda of sexual minorities’ opinions because they can be one of the factors in the spread of HIV infection.

What a unique and simple strategy to help stop a worldwide AIDS epidemic: Ban opinions!

Sadly, all attempts at gay rights rallies in Moscow have been met with violence, with no police protection afforded for the marchers. While Canada’s rallies are, thankfully, far more peaceful, Yuri’s sentiment is still very close to home. Plans for a small parade in Abbotsford, British Columbia, was met with wild criticism and had to be changed to something smaller.

Small Town Fights To Stop Gay Pride Parade

October 20th, 2008

High school students in Abbotsford, British Columbia, have run into opposition for their plans to hold the town’s first gay pride parade in November. The idea for the parade was prompted in part by the local school board’s decision to turf a social justice course over gay content.

Drawing quotes from a Facebook Group called 1,000 People Against the Pride Parade for Abbotsford, The Province reported that opponents criticized the parade as being an “attention-seeking gesture rather than a legitimate social cause.”

Yeah, so here’s the thing: If a minority group’s small-town, cultural parade is drawing enough criticism to prompt Facebook opposition groups and media attention, then it’s a freakin’ legitimate social cause. Gee whiz.

Montréal’s Fractured Pride

August 4th, 2008

Yesterday marked the end of Divers/Cité, Montréal’s annual gay and lesbian Pride festival. Or, at least that’s how I used to describe it. This year, the event organisers designated the event as a “a pluridisciplinary arts festival.” Pride, the traditional symbol of cultural celebration and a protest of those who would make gay people feel ashamed, was a theme curiously absent.

In fact, there was one traditionally beloved event that was missing entirely: the annual Pride parade. It’s still coming, mind you. Sunday August 17th, for those that are interested. But, for the second year in a row it’s not being organised by Divers/Cité. Worse, rumour has it that Divers/Cité has actively thwarted the parade from taking place during the rest of the festivities and has taken no part in clarifying what happened to it.

This bizarre situation started last year when Divers/Cité cancelled the parade outright, citing an internal survey that showed the annual gay rights march negatively affected beer sales. A group called Célébrations de la Fierté quickly formed to save the parade, and after last year’s success have now extended it into a four-day celebration, complete with outdoor shows and sponsored parties. In other words, they’ve basically created a second Divers/Cité, two weeks after the first one.

This has many people understandably confused. During the real Divers/Cité, I’ve been asked about the parade both on the street and via email. One New Yorker even wrote me to say his vacation plans were ruined by the change:

I come all the way from lower New York each year, and have already scheduled my vacation around [the parade] only to find it is now in August.  I will not now spend a dime or attend any event this year.

And is it any surprise? Since neither organisation wishes to acknowledge the other, both locals and travellers are scratching their heads as to what exactly is going on.

If you ask me, attendees don’t understand or care about the internal politics of the planning committees. These organisations really ought to take a cue from the gay community in general and unite themselves to celebrate what makes them special. Even if they want to remain seperate entities for organisational reasons, the time split only serves to showcase a bitter fracture.

Quel embarras.

Politicians Push To Ban Gay Pride Parade

June 6th, 2008

Protest protest

Religious politicians in Israel are pressuring the government to push through private legislation that will ban gay pride parades in the city of Jerusalem.

The National Union–National Religious Party, whose private member initiated the legislation, have held numerous protests denouncing the upcoming parade, and plan to hold ten more massive demonstrations on the day it is due to take place. An ironic initiative, considering pride parades are, well, a demonstration.

Pride parades are deeply rooted in protesting the policies that infringe upon human rights and deny gay people legal equality. The celebratory atmosphere and adoption of the term “pride” is a bold statement to say that gay people will not feel ashamed of who they are, despite pressure from others to do so. Attempts to ban parades, like the situation in Israel, simply re-enforce why Pride parades exist in the first place.

At least you know democracy is alive and kicking when people set about banning a demonstration through multiple, massive demonstrations. Still, Eliyahu Gabbay, the initiator of the legislation, has called opposition to his initiative anti-democratic:

It is unacceptable that [the chairman of the Knesset Constition] stalls decisions that were made in a democratic procedure. It is an anti-democratic move.

Yeah, sure.

The National Union has also asked police to ban the parade, saying that the gay demonstration, unlike the multiple National Union ones, would “infringe on the public order.”

Montréal’s Gay Pride Parade Cancelled, Saved

June 18th, 2007

Beer Garden

Divers/Cité has completely turfed Montréal’s Gay Pride parade after a survey suggested that the traditional gay rights march didn’t improve beer sales enough to justify the insurance and security costs.

Thankfully, upset community members came together last week to save the parade, which has now been scheduled for July 29th at 1pm, a week before the Divers/Cité festival. A new non-profit organisation, Célébrations LGBTA Montréal, has been formed to control the event.

Hmm… I wonder what priority the Divers/Cité festival planners would give beer sales today if it weren’t for past parades?

Toronto Councilor Explodes Over Gay Pride Funding

May 25th, 2007

Rob Ford Explodes

Rob Ford, a Toronto city councilor, has once again burst an eye vessel over gay issues at a city council meeting. Here’s what our delightful urban hayseed had to say before voting against the funding of Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade:

I don’t think we should be supporting sexuality and that’s where this money is going. That’s what we’re supporting here, madam chair. I don’t believe we should be spending taxpayers’ money supporting your sexuality! If you’re gay great. If you’re not gay, that’s great too. That’s your prerogative. Do we have a straight parade? Do we have a heterosexual parade? Do we fund that? No! So I don’t know why we’re funding other things like that.

A heterosexual parade, eh? Now that would be a spectacle. All those straight couples holding hands in public, flaunting their babies for all to see…

Here’s the thing: Rob doesn’t know what a gay pride parade is. The reason straight pride festivals don’t exist is because it’s not about “supporting sexuality.” Pride parades exist because pride is the opposite of shame—which is what many would still have us feel.

If Rob had ever been to a gay pride parade, he’d note its highly political nature, with groups representing equality advocacy organisations, help for struggling teens, parent support systems, MPs and MLAs, educators, councilors, researchers, corporate sponsors, sport teams, music and theatre groups, veterans, and many others. It promotes diversity, celebrates culture, and—as in the case of Toronto—can be one of a city’s most successful tourist attractions. Of course, I don’t expect Rob to get this any time soon.

Ford was featured on this site last year for voting against AIDS education programs, announcing: “[if] you’re not gay, you won’t get AIDS”. He later apologised, blaming his outburst on “one too many beers.”

Incidentally, the funding for Toronto’s Pride Parade passed overwhelmingly, 36–2.

A Typical Calgary Pride Week

June 23rd, 2006

Pride Parade

Calgary’s police chief, Jack Beaton, warned anti-gay protesters that “there’s such a thing as provocation” last week, after a protester who chased and called a gay man a “disgusting homo” was given a hefty, retaliatory tackle.

While the tackling was, of course, rightfully condemned, the police chief’s warning isn’t going over well with some of the protesters. Jeff Willerton, who was holding a quaint little “No Pride in Sodomy” sign that day, published an open letter on Wednesday, stating that not only were his slurs “in no way considered hateful” (chortle), but also that he thinks his group was the one provoked. The poor dears! Unwillingly incited into crafting offensive signs and yelling slurs!

Observe their rationale:

Two men spit at us, missing me but hitting my friend. This caused a great deal of concern for my friend, who knows that AIDS-infected spit in the eye or in an open sore can lead to the transmission of the disease.

Oh, Snap! Seriously. All us gays must be like walking rainbows of death—ready to infect anyone who crosses our path of gayness with the GRIDS! Run for the hills!

Incidentally, Tyson McCann Cormack, the spitter, had this to say:

I was chased and yelled at and I’ve never done anything my whole life. Well, I was tired of it today. I went to spit near one guy, but I did not spit on him. I spat near him as a sign that I wasn’t impressed with [the slurs].

But, really, although the protesters were clearly being jerks, that doesn’t exonerate a physical attack. After all, no matter how hurtful the “pro-family” types can be—no matter how much they go out of their way to personally insult us gays on our only day of celebration—I only dole out metaphorical slaps. It’s just the cordial thing to do.

Moscow’s Violent Anti-Gayness

May 29th, 2006

What a lovely place...

Even moose and squirrel must be shaking their heads at this news. Moscow’s first gay pride parade, which was to peacefully conclude by placing flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was met by hordes of violent protesters who started punching and kicking the participants. What’s even sadder, the authorities did little to stop the violence, instead condemning the parade. The mayor and courts even banned the march, citing, well… nothing, really.

Canadian gay rights activist, John Fisher, was there.

What I saw was a complete failure of police protection that was directly linked to the mayor’s banning of the march. We can only hope that what we saw was representative of only a small segment of society.

Of course, there’s not much joking I can do with this shameful material, so I’ll conclude by congratulating the pride marchers for taking a stand against such nonsense, and I wish them all the best next year! Don’t give up!