David Miller and the City of Toronto kicked off Pride week here by raising the rainbow flag up in Nathan Phillips Square yesterday.
I often hear people tell me how much they hate Pride, because it’s too crowded, commercialized, stereotypical, “insert excuse here”.
I only came out to myself around the age of 28. I’m 35 now. I think I had been aware for a few years prior that I was at the very least, bi…. but hadn’t really been able to focus my thoughts and actually give it a name. I just knew it to be wrong.
Growing up in the 70-80’s and being beaten, humiliated, ostracised, my personal property as well as my parents vandalized, led me to deeply bury whatever notions I may have had about myself.
It was only when I moved away from Montreal, and started over here in Toronto, that I began exploring and to discover who I really was. It’s seven years later, and I’m still coming to terms with some stuff.
Intimacy/sex is a major one. I wasn’t sexually active as a youth, and the few relationships I had, with girls, never progressed beyond the best buddies stage (duh, you think I would have clued in there). So I was never really prepared for how much sex is linked to, at least, the gay part of the LGBTQ community, but let’s not get into that.
What I did learn was to like myself for who I was, to stop hiding, and just accept. It’s easy here in Toronto, and now when I go back to Montreal, I don’t live in fear either, of what people may think. But what about the smaller communities, that may not have well established LGBTQ communities, and no outlet for people to be themselves? Are these individuals doomed to download gay porn or surf gay chat lines so that they can link up quietly with other individuals? To pretend to be something they’re not so that they can just get through the days?
Canada has now celebrated it’s 3rd anniversary of gay marriage. On June 10th, 2003 Ontario made marriage available to anyone, no matter their sexual preference. The rest of Canada’s provinces have since followed in those steps, but that doesn’t mean that the fight for acceptance isn’t over.
There are a lot of places where being LGBTQ just isn’t talked about yet, outside the major metropolises. For these people, Pride isn’t about the big Unity-type parties, or getting laid. It’s about being allowed to celebrate themselves, even if it’s only for one day.
In London, Ontario, which does have a Pride parade, the onlookers are separated from the parade by a fence that’s been put up along the side walk, just in case some rowdies decide to storm the floats of people just having a good time.
In China, a number of gay websites have been shut down. There are an estimated 48 million LGBTQ people there, and regretfully little is being done to help them in stopping their isolation and coming out. China is also woefully behind the time when it comes to addressing the prevention of HIV.
Approximately 35% of gay teens attempt suicide before coming out in North America.
Pope Benedict and the Roman Catholic church, are still spewing their filth that allowing us marriage or the right to adopt is a sin. Because of Rome’s proximity to Italy, it’s recently elected leftist government may decide to backtrack on their electoral promise of bringing to the table the right for LGBTQ marriage.
Here in North Am, there are portents indicating that there may be a theological war, as many Catholics and Clergy disagree with Rome’s stance. The end results may wind up being similar as to what’s going on with the Episcopalians and Anglican church.
In New York City, Kevin Aviance, a popular drag queen, was beaten horribly by four individuals, one of them 16 years old.
in 2002, Gwen Araujo, a transgendered teen, was beaten to death by some “friends” when it was discovered she was previously male.
There are a million other tragic stories, and more, occurring daily.
This is why we should celebrate Pride. It is defiance of those that want to push us back into the closet, or into an early grave, and to give hope to those who have yet to come to love themselves just for being who they are.
Forget about the commercialism and crowds. If that bothers you, grab your car or bus and go and celebrate Pride in one of the smaller rural communities instead. Stop being such cynics and remember that if it weren’t for Stonewall and a bunch of drag queens, you wouldn’t have the guts to even have that cynicism.
Me, I going to celebrate this year by being in the Pride Parade Sunday, on the TCHC float. Seven years ago, I couldn’t walk around without wondering what people were thinking of me. Now, I’m going to be in front of close to a million.