June 24th, 2016
With the June 12 mass murder in Orlando still at the top of the news, LGBTQ Pride Month has taken on a deeper meaning for many. We’re making sure we’re out, unapologetic, and challenging hate with #LoveWins as our theme.
Pride takes its theme from the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riot (June 28), when patrons of the Stonewall Inn decided they had experienced enough police discrimination and fought back against a raid on a bar. That night is called the birth of the LGBT civil rights movement. Although we’ve come a long way since then, there are still instances where we’re not fully accepted citizens, and this is why recognizing Pride is necessary. I agree with Elio Iannacci’s words that it’s important this year more than ever.
Many Pride marches are organized in June to reflect Stonewall beginnings. In Vancouver, East Side Pride is celebrated in June (this weekend at Grandview Park on The Drive), but the downtown parade waits until later in the summer, a switch that happened when we hosted the Gay Games. This year the date is set for July 31.
The challenge to homophobia is more than just parades. Queer film festivals take place in Toronto and Vancouver; to Halifax on the East Coast and many cities around the world, bringing entries of love, politics, and triumphs from the globe.
Education events and campaigns also stand strong against hate and violence. The Day of Silence is a student-focused event to call attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia is every year in May. National Coming Out Day (October 11) was created in 1988 to promote a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly.
On a personal and political front, Ellen Degeneres has welcomed many performers and personalities to her show, where they talk about coming out publicly or the importance of this social justice work. Oprah commends her on being instrumental on living authentically, President Obama on her work at “Changing hearts and minds”.
What Orlando shows us is that work for welcome is still in process. There are still hearts and minds to change. We need to keep fighting for full rights and being ourselves with love and honour.