"Why do we still need pride week? Why are there special activities for alternative families? Are we not already on equal ground?” A London, Ont. radio host asked me these questions last month during an interview while we were discussing my new children’s book, Emlyn and the Gremlin.
A lot of things go on in my head in the second before I respond to surprising questions.
In this case, I considered the fact that I actually don’t like parades very much. The crowds bother me; the road closures are annoying, and all the litter in the streets afterwards is depressing.
I rarely attend Pride Parades because I don’t like “events”— but I still believe the festival is a vital part of Canadian culture. I count on our city to put on a good show and I often watch from a safe distance, away from all the popcorn and
Pride is more than a parade, which many people seem to forget. Pride is a weeklong festival with activities specifically designed for the LGBT population.
It’s about community, friendships and camaraderie.
What I love most about Pride week is seeing other two-mom families because that’s rare in my day-to-day life.
In playgroups and other activities my wife and I attend with our daughter, we’re almost always the only same-sex couple there. It’s great to be around other families like ours, who are having some of the same experiences — good and discouraging — that we are.
“Why do we need pride week?”I took a beat and answered, “Have you seen the news today?”
The public perception that LGBT citizens are already on equal ground with hetero, cis-gendered people is destructive because if people are fooled into believing we’re “already there,” they see no reason to keep fighting for positive change.
The deep-seated attitude that gay equals wrong persists, and negative social attitudes are damaging. LGBT youth are committing suicide because they are so afraid that the bullying, discrimination and in many cases, self-hatred, will never end.
Gay and lesbian families are so vastly under-represented in mainstream culture — books, movies, television shows, media ads — that it would be comical if it weren’t so devastating to equality. The LGBTs are still Canada’s lower-class citizens.
The pervasive and ridiculous statement, “We don’t have a straight pride parade” is proof enough of the many miles LGBT citizens still have to go until we reach the border of normalization.
Of course you don’t have a straight pride parade. Majorities enjoy innate advantages and don’t need to further their advantageous position.
Members of minorities, on the other hand, need safe spaces to celebrate and be recognize.
What is the objection to Pride? Answering this may help people address the negative feelings they don’t realize they have about the LGBT community. Are they uncomfortable with the floats? Are they ticked off about the road closures?
Or is it that, deep down, they still think that we are disgusting, and they just don’t want to see us?
Privately, are they thinking “Will all you gays just go away?”
It would be easier if we could just declare equality, like a flag planted in the sand, and then stop thinking about it. But like other inconvenient truths, the marginalization of LGBT citizens persists even as it’s deliberately ignored.
Worldwide, gay rights are in an abysmal state. In many countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. In many others, it’s illegal, and punishable by other means.
Even in first-world countries like the United States, gay news is like a game of ping-pong with the revocation and reinstatement of rights — updates seem to occur every three minutes.
What about here at home? Surely we don’t need Pride Week in Canada? Surely we are the safe haven for LGBT citizens?
Even if that were true, Canadians need to host World Pride and other Pride events to support people who can be killed in their own countries for their romantic-partner relationship.
So, rather than lamenting Pride and wishing it wouldn’t happen, consider embracing the detours, waving to the floats, and grabbing a flag in support of your gay neighbours by having a rainbow-papered hotdog on the street.
Stephanie Kain is the author of Emlyn and the Gremlin. She lives in Ottawa with her wife and daughter.
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